Monday, August 13, 2007

Seattle Software Development Club

When I first retired from Microsoft, I had several ideas for software development projects; I really love programming and wanted to "keep my hand in it". So I joined with a friend and we created an informal "development club". We brainstormed about a number of projects, and then settled in on one of them and got to work.

We ran things informally, and it was a lot of fun. In the end we "shipped" one piece of code (an online photo-gallery/story page), which my partner then used on his web site/publishing project.

Subsequently, I got really interested in developing on online database (data-cloud), and also started working full time at Blue Dot - so the whole development club idea got put on the side.

Now that I'm working hard on my next startup (PageForest), I can feel the need for something like this even more. While I have a couple people working with me on web design, and product planning, I am lacking for the kind of technical support and community that you'd have available when working at a larger company or fully funded startup.

My hunch is that there are probably a lot of folks like me in Seattle. Say, ex-MSFT-ees who don't really look forward to working for someone else at this stage in their life. Nor are they ready to commit to being a full-time entrepreneur just yet - but would love to explore some ideas and develop some software and/or prototypes with the support of an intact organization.

So, I'm seriously considering re-starting this idea. The SSDC will provide the following benefits for members:

  • Office space - a place to work, learn, and network with other software development folks.
  • Weekly seminars on technical topics.
  • Member round-table for presentation of prototypes and demos to get feedback
  • Opportunity to join with other members on their projects.
  • Technical and administrative support for members:
    • Datacenter
    • Database Administration

I've begun looking for Office space in Seattle. I want to support up to 10 "in-residence" members initially. Membership fees will pay the cost of facilities and staff support. I am also looking for investment partners as well as associate members who would like to contribute technical expertise in support of member projects (with the chance to become founding employees for projects that roll-out to become funded startups).

I would love to hear from you if you would like to discuss this and might like to be involved. If you have pointers to other "incubator" models that work well elsewhere, I'd love to hear about that too (comment here or send mail to mckoss at

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Beating my head against the wall

Things have not progressed very rapidly for PageForest over the past week. We just passed a big milestone at the OTHER startup I'm working on (Blue Dot), so I've been paying more attention to that lately.

But, thanks to Zach, we've set up better infrastructure for source control and bug reporting using As I was transitioning between source control servers, I accidentally deleted our PageForest database. This was due to a) my inexperience using SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) and b) poor design of SSMS (I thought I was just "detaching" a database file from SQL Server, when in fact, SSMS actually DELETES your database file - yikes!)

I actually thought I had lost the database for good (including all the early signups for our mailing list). After crying and banging my head against the wall, I took a break and went to a movie with Deb (Hairspray - quite good by the way). When I got back, I found my data hiding in a database copy I had made along the way. Now all restored. Whew!