I’m Going To Run My Own Software Company

Welcome to the “Joel Of All Trades” series.


Doing your own thing means that, in my experience, you have to be a Jack Of All Trades.

You come up with the idea for a piece of software. You do some design; database, UI. You write it. You use it.

Then the real work kicks in. You need web presence. Marketing. Relationships. You need a Support system. Bug and Feature tracking. An Alpha/Beta system.

You have to get a website. Make the decision about what to put on it. Screenshots. Features. Some kind of “look at me” frontpage. Images.

It’s a big job. And it’s not the end. Because, all of the before is only a foundation for the following:

You have to sell it.

This series, Joel Of All Trades will chronicle my own journey. A journey which begins with Oldaer.

The series name is in reference to Joel Spolsky, who inspires me every time I read his blog. Check out this post, The new Fog Creek office.

Oh, the Aliens in the picture above obviously have a very excellent plan for World Domination. They have Dragons. There’s a metaphor in that somewhere.

Our Priorities Suck, Thankfully Joel’s Don’t

Joel Spolsky is, for all you can find out about a person through a blog, a cool guy. This new year (as in previous years) I’ve taken some time to dive into his blog (and Jeff Atwood’s) and let his in-linking take me where it will.

These two guys have a different way of looking at Programming. At Software Development. At _making stuff_.

Why is it different?

Because for the most part, at least in my experience, even the enlightened Developers are bound up within the wrong priorities.


“And we eat lunch together every day.”

This is the best priority I’ve ever seen. Bar none. You know why?

Because Relationships (People) count. They matter more over time than any stock or financial holding or body of code.

What is the point of making stuff if your relationships at work suck? Sure, I can see a point.

  • You get projects .. done.
  • You make a bottom line.
  • You are a piece of paper handed over to a manager who puts it together with some more papers and hands it to their manager, who in turn folds them all into a gigantic paper plane and flies them “upstairs”. Upstairs, where everything is boiled down in giant vats of dollar signs and numbers.

This isn’t a post about changing the system, or pulling off a major coupe against “the Man”.

It’s about YOU/ME continuing to adjust our priorities in alignment with this clear and excellent way of thinking. Relationships first. Code second. It’s an important second, but second nonetheless.

I Figured It Out – Smart AND Gets Things Done


My eldest is as smart as a tack.

He’ll take you to town on Dinosaurs, Lego, Star Wars and Batman, Bugs and Sea Creatures. He’s always making stuff, writing stories, drawing pictures (the other kiddles are doing these things too). He’s not afraid to create something based on other people’s ideas either.

He’s mastering the two important passes in Rugby, the pop and the spiral. He can do a pushup almost (ha ha) as good as his old man. He’s got one of those real six-packs (unlike his old man, who has the keg, heh heh). He loves to help his Grandpas out in the shed, working on stuff like in the picture.

He’s gotten a lot of awards at school. Caring for his classmates is always something mentioned by teachers. Solving problems. Mental acuity. Loves to ask and learn about the projects I’m doing, especially when I dabble in game development.

He’s like a jock and a nerd rolled into one.

He’s smart, and he gets things done.

smartandgetsthingsdoneSmart & Gets Things Done” is a book by Joel Spolsky. It’s subtitled “Joel Spolsky’s Concise Guide to Finding the Best Technical Talent”. He’s the guy I’ve named a series of posts after (Joel Of All Trades).

This is a book that every nerd should read. Period. It’s short, you can whip through it in a couple of sittings, maybe less.

Here is a quote which is the crux and whole of the matter. It’s found towards the end of the book, in the Interview chapter.

OK, I didn’t tell you the most important part – how do you know whether to hire someone?

In principle, it’s simple. You’re looking for people who are

1. Smart, and

2. Get things done.

That’s it. That’s all you’re looking for. Memorize that. Recite it to yourself before you go to bed every night.

I can’t explain just how big an impact this had on my brain.

Here is what I’ve been throwing around in dim recesses for a long time. Trying to classify what I do (that sounds a little arrogant), and how to classify (or de-) what others do.

This is not just a lesson for people looking to hire developers.

This is a lesson FOR developers.

It’s not enough to be smart. It’s not enough to get things done. You have to be a beautiful cylon composite of both.

Be Smart. Get Things Done.

Joel’s the Wonder Man

Okay, so maybe I am a Hype-Monkey. This is possible. But while I’m willing to admit my problems, I urge everyone that has any aspirations at all in the world of Software Development to go and take a dive in the crystal waters of Joel on Software.

There is so much good here. Mind-blowing kind of stuff. Information/Wisdom that you have heard before, in pieces, but here it’s woven together with experience. It’s a single package. Gold Jerry!

The articles I’ve recently read are each and every one a gem.

The Joel Test: 12 Steps to Better Code, Top Five (Wrong) Reasons You Don’t Have Testers, The Law of Leaky Abstractions, and The Guerrilla Guide to Interviewing.

But there’s more, a lot more. Check out the Archives.

So just a little plug.

A blog/site like Joel on Software has the effect on me of instantly pushing me to be better at development. It’s been over six months since I last visited, and I wonder why it hasn’t been a regular haunt. Or at least every few weeks.

So to all the Skeptic’s out there (you know what I’m talkin bout), if you never buy into any hype … visit this place. It’s the bomb. And by bomb, I mean unassuming quality site with a gold-mine of information and experience mixed together into wisdom.