It’s finally burned

I’ve finished the build of the software for Neil Gaiman, and I’ll be sending it off monday morning. Great big thanks to everyone who’s had a go, including but not limited to: , , eddie777, for documentation and testing, ravenlas, roninstorm, eequinch, James, Andy and Derek for testing, WoOdy for producing my CD covers, Tom for suggesting a funky security algorithm, failmaster for some excellent business advice, and everyone else who offered to help but I couldn’t find a job for. It’s been emotional.

I’ll let you all know how it goes. But despite what may or may not happen with NG, I have to say two things;

First, I’m incredibly lucky to have friends like this. I’ve been astounded, frankly, by the willingness to help, and the quality of that help. Marvellous.

Second, my enthusiasm for the project, previously grinding to a halt after a long year with few solid successes, has enjoyed a tremendous boost, both from an actual author who thought it worth looking at, and from my friends who saw something worth supporting.

Thanks, everyone, for all the help and encouragement. It means a lot.


The power of the Hivemind

Wow. today’s been mad. And it’s taught me something. But I’m not quite sure what yet…

So far today, I’ve got myself a new website admin (Chris K), a set of early-beta testers (Paul Tucker, Paul Marshall, Jerry), a load of late-beta testers (rosie, ellen, ) a production guy (woody), possibly a logo designer, I’ve become a paypal online merchant, got a forum for my testers, and … well. I’ve forgotten everything I’ve done today.

But I beheld the power of the hivemind. And verily, I wondered with great admiration.

Thanks, everyone.

An urgent cry for help – and an offer of dinner

Would you like free software and dinner? Want to help save a drowning man?

As you all know, I’ve got to get a damned good quality version of Ariadne out the door by the end of next week. The better the program, the more likely NG is to react well and either give me a quote or mention me on his blog. His blog, I hear, gets about 50,000 hits a day; if I could get even a small fraction of that audience to look at and buy Ariadne, I’ll be very happy. If I have a big NG quote on the front cover of the CD, I can probably expect to quadruple the chance of a sale.

It’s a pretty tall order for me – the program’s nowhere near a tested and ready state yet – it’s not even feature-complete. There’s no documentation, and I have no way to sell it even if it were ready. So, I’m spending every free second this week trying to whip it into shape.

I’m hoping that I might prevail upon some of my friends for help in this; I have a number of ideas for discrete jobs, and if anyone is willing to complete one of these jobs to a professional standard, I’ll be happy to give them free copies of Ariadne for life. If NG either gives me an endorsement or a blog-mention, I’ll take you for dinner, too.

So here’s the list of jobs. If you want to help, tell me what you’ll do by sending an email ASAP to steve at

The Jobs;


* The Rough Guide: Write a short description (probably 5-10 pages) of how Ariadne works. I just need a tutorial-style guide, a getting-started kinda thing, not a full reference. This’ll involve lots of coordination with me, as obviously the software isn’t finished yet. Probably a rolling thing that goes on throughout the week. (Hell, if you want Neil Gaiman to read some of your writing, this is your chance 😉
* Website: Redesign my website to inform people about ariadne, and guide them to a sale. Really needs less than a dozen pages, focusing more on clear written content than graphical tomfoolery.


* Early User Testing: I’d like three people to download, install and run Ariadne by tuesday this week (25th) to give me general user interface comments.
* Download & Test: Next weekend (29-30 Jan) I’ll need as many people as possible installing and running the software, and giving me feedback.
* Testing at Frances Street: On Sun 30 Jan, I’ll be hosting a ‘bring a laptop and test stuff’ session. As bugs crop up, I’ll fix and give out reinstallation CDs.


(In both cases, obviously, I’ll cover any costs)

* CD Cases; Print 100 copies of my cover art onto quality A4 paper. Trim with a guillotine, insert into DVD cases. (I have the DVD cases, but don’t have photo-quality paper).
* CD Design: Design an image for the top of the CD itself. Print 100 blank CDs with the artwork on top, so that I can burn them when they’re ready.


* Merchant Site: Recommend me a site which will take credit-card orders for the software by Wednesday 26th Jan. If I OK the recommendation, set it up for me.
* Software Activation: Recommend an off-the-shelf activation system for preventing piracy that can be built into a .Net application.


* Business Setup: Recommend a legal structure for selling things; should come in the form of a set of instructions I have to follow, something like ‘set up a limited company at website A, send a letter to Companies House stating ‘B’, contact the inland revenue and tell then ‘C’, ask your bank to do D.