MIT Scratch — great programming environment for kids

Programming No Comments »

Last week while reading about Raspberry Pi, I saw some articles about Scratch, a programming environment for kids developed at MIT.

My kids and I tried to play with it some the other night but didn’t get too far — I didn’t know enough about it to get out of the gate — and they quickly lost interest. I was frustrated because I knew this would be something they’d love but our first foray was a fail.

Then my Raspberry Pi arrived Friday evening, and Saturday we played with it some, and I’m not even sure what caused the spark, but on Sunday in our living room we had a Scratch Jam, with four of my kids using three laptops and Raspberri Pi on the TV to do Scratch. Their age range (7-16) and programming/design ability meant their outcomes varied a lot, but each had a lot of fun, and most spent several hours working with Scratch. Quite an educational Sunday.

What impresses me the most about Scratch is that it is totally visual but it is also “real” programming, without having to worry about typos and other programming syntax errors. It also allows one to quickly get real results that you can see, and tweak, over and over. And it leads you to stop and think when things don’t work as they should, and then try again, probably the best benefit of all.

Two thumbs up for Scratch.

Job Opening: PHP Programmer / LAMP Web Application Developer

Business Development, Programming No Comments »

PHP Programmer / LAMP Web Application Developer 

Quintify Database Solutions, Inc. is a software development company based in Wilmington, NC that develops large, complex web database applications for small- and medium-sized businesses.

We are currently seeking a PHP Programmer / LAMP Web Application Developer who is bright and who gets things done. (Joel Spolsky fans will of course be given special attention.) This position requires on-location work in Wilmington, NC. 

This person’s primary responsibility will be to help maintain and extend our clients’ web database applications as well as to work with us on product development and new systems. 

We are currently looking for a full-time employee but would consider someone able to work 20-40 hours/week on a contract basis. 

The main performance evaluation criteria for this position are:

  • Timeliness and completeness/accuracy in completing assigned programming tasks.
  • Contribution to the Quintify team in terms of best practices, business ideas, and product development.

Required Qualifications

  • Extensive, demonstrable experience and expertise with developing database-driven web applications using PHP and MySQL in a Linux environment.
  • Intermediate to advanced skills in HTML/CSS, JavaScript/jQuery/AJAX, SQL, shell scripting, and PHP.
  • Capability to get around the Linux shell, including basic shell commands and using vi, emacs, or something similar.

Our Qualifications Wish List

  • Experience with code generation, automated (scripted) web application testing, and/or continuous integration.
  • Experience with Linux server administration, e.g. Apache config files, MySQL configuation, and general sys admin tasks, for regular Linux servers and/or Amazon Web Services (EC2, RDS).
  • Experience using source code control (e.g. Subversion).
  • A good feel for small-business best practices — sales, marketing, operations, finances, admin, HR, project management, etc.
  • A Tom Peters devotee (Brand You, WOW projects, PSF greatness)
  • Project management experience
  • Superior communication skills.

Compensation depends on experience, skill set, and the ability to hit the ground running.

If you are interested in being considered for this position, please let us know why you are the one to join our team by sending an email to jobs at quintify dot com. (spam spider protected — replace "at" with "@" and "dot" with ".")

For background info on Quintify and what we’re trying to do, here are some links:

first thoughts on iPad 2

This and That No Comments »

Quintify has a new client who’s going to use iPads to access their web database, and we’re also moving toward mobile app development including iPads, so we reached the point where it made sense to get an iPad 2 for development and education purposes.

Until today, I had seen the iPad as a media consumption device for watching videos, surfing the web while watching TV, and playing games. My mindset is much more production focused, so I was never that interested in iPads. (And, as an aside, my “media consumption” assumption about the iPad led me to think we’d be much better off getting a 3G iPad, which we did.)

However, now that we’ve had one for four hours, I must say I’m totally amazed at the “production” capability in it. My oldest daughter, the main benefactor of the iPad, had already picked out music composition and drawing apps, which she installed once we got home and has been playing with for the past few hours. I’ll say it again, I’m amazed at what she can already do writing music and creating art on the thing. And I took a sample HD video on a demo while waiting at the AT&T store and was super impressed at the quality.

I watched the Adobe MAX 2011 keynotes recently, and remember how they talked about touch being much more natural than a mouse, and how touch was revolutionizing the digital tools we use. I get it now.

We’re a Kindle family — we have five for the six of us — and now I foresee the day when we’rll be a tablet family too, and a family who uses them for creative production and not just passive consumption.

Front page of Google for good keyword (Thanks, Mattias!)

Business Development, Quintify's Team No Comments »

Mattias MacDowell of Raygun Media has been doing search engine optimization for us, and tonight he texted me to do a search on Google for “custom business software“. I did and was surprised to see Quintify in the #8 slot on the front page! Pretty cool!

Mattias is also doing SEO for two of Quintify’s clients, Monarcares (online caregiver resource) and The Casual Edge (embroidered and screen printed apparel and promotional products. (Hannah — mentioned in my Modern Family Farm post — has also done work for both of these clients, including the video on Monarcares’s “Learn More” page.

If you are in the Wilmington, NC area and need someone to help you with your SEO, I highly recommend Mattias and the Raygun Media team. I’ve known him for many years and have been impressed with his resourcefulness and stick-to-it-ness while watching him start and grow two successful companies, 360Skate.com  (skateboards) and Pacific Medical (medical equipment repair), both also Quintify clients.

Our Modern Family “Farm”: Putting My Kids to Work in a High-Tech Age

Business Development, Personal Development, Quintify's Team, This and That 1 Comment »

In the past, kids would help feed feed the pigs, harvest the corn, gather the eggs, and do whatever else was needed to help on the family farm. Through this they met practical needs but also learned the value of hard work, the satisfaction of a job well done, and “how the world works.”

My family has no farm, but I do have a software development company, and I’m excited at how our kids are becoming more and more involved in the family business.

Hannah, 14, is using Camtasia and Adobe Creative Suite Master Collection to create software overview and tutorial videos, and also do some graphic art work. Her Camtasia work is excellent, with her incorporating logo effects using Adobe After Effects, music, still shots, video captures, and a fine attention to detail when editing.

She’s done paid work for three of Quintify’s clients, and now alas I’m standing in line for her to do a major update and extension of Quintify’s own online tutorials as well as a sales-focused overview screencast.

Danny, 13, does testing for the web databases we create, making sure all is well as part of the development process. He’s also spending a lot of time learning Adobe Flex, which will enable us to offer iphone and Android apps for our database systems in the not-too-far-off future. (This has me excited!) He’s also learning PHP and MySQL, major technologies in Quintify’s arsenal.

Haneen, 10, fills out deposit slips and writes checks that I then sign. I’m also showing her how to enter the payments into Quintify’s database system, and hope to soon have her doing our invoicing. She’s also going to be learning Adobe Premier Pro once we figure out to how to transfer videos from our camcorder to the “Quintify laptop”.

And all three do data entry on behalf of clients’ system from time to time, and we plan for them to soon be doing writing projects that will help with Quintify’s SEO as well as give them something “real” to write about.

Micaiah, just turned 6, is about to be given perhaps Quintify’s most important job — making sure Daddy’s laptop is clean enough to be presentable at meetings with clients.

What enables us to run with this is the fact that we homeschool, so we can block out an hour or two from each kids’ day for “Quintify time”, which, I would argue, is some of the best education they’re getting. The other day Hannah met with a client to do a round of editing on a software overview video. During that time — at which neither Liz nor I were there — she not only used her Camtasia skills (information technology) but also got valuable experience interacting with a client (interpersonal communications), thinking through how to best present information to an audience (marketing), and made some money while at it (business 101). I’ll take that kind of education for my kids any day. (And they love doing this work.)

Like on the farm, there’s always much work to do, and I actually joked to Liz the other day asking if she knows any other smart teenage kids we can adopt into our family and put to work. Since that isn’t really an option, I’m now talking to another homeschooling family about getting their 14-year-old involved in some of the things we’re doing.

Side note: Two things we have found particularly helpful in these endeavors is Lynda.com’s training videos and the fact that Adobe offers it’s Creative Suite Master Collection on a subscription basis. We’re able to cover the subscription fees for both of these products through revenue brought in from Hannah’s work with outside clients, with Hannah still getting paid too.

A hopefully helpful rejection letter

Personal Development No Comments »

Hi,

Sorry for the slow response. I’ve been meaning to write you a longer email but at least wanted to reply back to let you know that I received your resume.

In today’s economy, with stiff competition for jobs, I’d like to recommend a couple of articles to read and digest that I think could help give you a mindset that will help with your career success. They are over 10 years old but they are classics. (Tom Peters now has books on the topics if you want to pursue his ideas in more depth.)

http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/10/brandyou.html

http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/24/wowproj.html

As the principles in these articles become engrained in your life, they should flow through too to your resume as well.

Let me know if you have any questions about this. I’d be happy to discuss it further with you.

Reid

Check out this captcha from Twitter

Client Focus, Programming, This and That 1 Comment »

Too good to not share… Click the image to see the whole thing.

Twitter captcha with chinese

Quick comment on CEO pay

Personal Development, This and That No Comments »

CNN Money has an article today about how CEOs earn 343 times what the average American worker does. They mention paywatch.org, a website by the AFL-CIO that rants against this ratio. Neither website offered a place for comments so I thought I’d make mine here.

Sorry, but I’m sure I add 343 times more value in the work I do than some American workers do in the work they do. But I’m just as quick to say I’m sure there are others who add 343 times more value in their work than I do in mine.

Pay based on value added is only natural. If you don’t want to pay it, someone else will, as long as I can demonstrate and provide that value-added consistently over time.

You want more income? Figure out how to add more value, how to serve more people. (And that especially applies to myself!)

Looking for a PHP Programmer

Quintify's Team No Comments »

Lots of work to do and we’re looking for a PHP Programmer to join the team:

http://www.quintify.com/php-programmer.html

great Tony Robbins video — New Year, New You

Personal Development, This and That No Comments »

Business Coach Reggie Shropshire first introduced me to this video by Tony Robbins, in which he discusses how to keep your New Year’s resolutions.

Good stuff — worth listening to at least annually, if not daily!

The total running time is about 35 minutes.

Part one:

Part two:

Part three:

Part Four:

Happy New Year! Here’s to an awesome 2011.

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