How great software gets made

Shockey Monkey

There is a comment bot (or someone with entirely too much time) that pings me whenever a day goes by without a blog post or a comment. Daily Dose of Vlad. Seriously, if you can’t dig up another source of technical filth on the Internet we’re going to have to shut it down. Here you go, hope you laugh. If you’re British I hope you’re offended.

How great software gets made

I’m sure that if you’ve read between the lines over the past two weeks or so you’ve noticed a fair bit of frustration in my writing. It has been an unusually frustrating time in my professional life but not because you may think – When you’re an ISP for over 10 years you get used to dealing with idiots allergic to documentation that want you to provide it to them that its not your fault. So work doesn’t bother me, positive stuff doesn’t do so much for me because frankly people kiss my ass and love what we do all day and night. However, when things turn ugly I find motivation because its an opportunity to improve and get better. Just how I work I suppose.

So yesterday I decided to squash my month-long angst towards billing side of Shockey Monkey and I decided to sit down and finally just bang it out. But you can’t just sit down and write software. Not good software at least.

First, we went to Buffalo Wild Wings and I ordered a Hurricane and asked it be “as strong as you can legally make it” and to my surprise they came just short of it being straight rum. That will get you started at 11am!

The rest of the day I spent hanging out with my son. At about 6 PM I decided to get on the Wii and work on getting a 1000 rank in boxing.

So let’s recap. Get drunk. Check. Get half naked and pound air in front of your TV in the living room until you are coated with sweat. Check. Start coding.

What I came up with after that is slightly hazy but incomplete to say the least. Here are my major design shortcomings:

  1. For a true syncronization to work I need to mirror the data between the accounting software and Shockey Monkey. Things like account identifiers, invoices, amounts, etc. When one gets adjusted so should the other. Nobody in their right mind would do that.
  2. Getting the experience to be the same across multiple accounting platforms is a huge problem. For example, some systems limit invoice item notes/description to a 256 varchar field. Others will take an entire book. There isn’t a consistent way to do this.
  3. The way most consulting shops bill is on the time rendered during the week/month/quarter. The way Shockey Monkey logically filters items for billing is by waiting for the ticket to be closed. So I got about 24 hours to redraw the schema and my billing code to reflect the incomplete issue billing.

Now, why destroy your mind and body before trying to mess with the above? Because anyone with the ounce of sanity the above would have been a two second solution: It is what it is, adjust to my software and just suck it. K? Not quite what I’m going for.

So after the conference call today when I realized all I did to this point is pretty much broken I just sat there and spaced out and thought of the Shockey Monkey tagline. No, not the “Making IT Management Fun” but the more polite version Chris Rue designed specifically for the UK market: “Better than snorting coke of the hookers ass” after someone from UK actually bothered to call me and complain about the title and how it offended their sensibilities, and how a picture of my comment on ETAs offended the even more (can’t find the picture anymore, but its our official ETA guidance picture with me and the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland).  

Core frustration 

My biggest frustration is that I am (yet) unable to make this ridiculously simple. Most of the IT space has a fantastically simple job. We sell products and then we sell services, either in bundles or metered. Doesn’t get simpler than that. The software should eliminate all complexity from the “getting paid” part of the equation and it should be immediately obvious what needs to be done. Work on the ticket, update ticket, add time, close ticket, click on accounting, click on a link print the invoice and either email and ask for money or mail and ask for money. So simple, so beautiful. The only thing complicating it would be the 3,000 different accounting packages 🙁

But, it’s 1:30, I’m working on it and should have something simple by the weekend.

If you’re not on Shockey Monkey I am sad to say that the beta is closed until the product goes commercial which should have been this Monday but obviously didn’t happen. I appreciate your interest and hope you understand that due to the size of the beta it would be difficult for me to effectively support more than the 3,000 people on it so far. I appreciate the interest, and if you can’t wait for it I do recommend Connectwise. Call Arnie and tell him Vlad sent you and scream Go Gators after you mention that part. Hopefully gets you a discount.

7 Responses to How great software gets made

  1. Andy Parkes says:

    I’m massively offended…

    i demand you delete the last months worth of posts…no shut down the entire blog 🙂

  2. Theo says:

    I’ve been waiting for almost a year… and you want me to give up now???

    Hell NO! GO GATORS!!!

    (Hopefully that’ll get me a discount with the monkey when you go live)

  3. vlad says:


    If you promise to translate it to Greek I will make it happen in a month.


    How’s that?


  4. Joe says:

    Hey Vlad-

    I think I have some simple suggestions that could improve the invoicing component of SM and still keep things clean, and intuitive.

    I’d be glad to share when you’ve got time.

  5. Theo says:

    To get it in a month, I’ll translate it to Ancient Greek… 🙂

  6. Brian says:

    Dammit. I knew “coming may 2008” was a hoax. Doh!

    Oh well, as they say, the waiting is the hardest part……I like your ETA…

Comments are closed.