techZING! 3 – Source Control… What’s Source Control?

QueryCell, mISV Marketing, Delphi, VB6, Partners Buy In, Balsamiq, Business Morals, John Carmack, QuakeCon, Semantic Web, Python Drama, Version Control, Tortoise SVN, Beanstalk, Facebook’s Future

  • Justin found our guest Sam Howley by posting an open invitation on the Joel on Software forum. Sam is located in Australia and is the creator of QueryCell, an Excel add-in that provides the ability to write and execute SQL queries on spreadsheet table data. He also recently released a product called Quiz Night Chief.
  • Sam says that while QueryCell was only just released three weeks ago, he already has customers. He cites the rule that things will take longer than you expect, even when you take that rule into account. He believes that this principle can be extended to marketing, as in – marketing will be more important than you think even when you take that into account. He says that it was a week before he got his first customer at which point he and his girlfriend celebrated and went out to dinner.
  • Justin expects that there will be a lot of people who will have the pain that QueryCell relieves, but wonders how you might find and market to those people. Sam explains the difficulty in marketing to a non-technical customer base as they often don’t hang out all in one place.
  • Sam talks about Delphi, the platform in which he wrote QueryCell. Jason compared VB6 to Delphi and describes how much more productive it was for him to write Windows apps using VB6 than Visual C++, which he used in the 90s.
  • Sam talks a little bit about how he learned to write code and how he got into software development.
  • Sam discusses the market for Quiz Night Chief and the problem it solves.
  • Jason talks about the importance of having the support of significant others when pursing entrepreneurial ventures.
  • Sam says that he has products number three and four in the works and Justin discuses the difficulty of keeping yourself from being distracted by new projects and ideas. Justin posts all of his new software ideas on the web (giving them away for free) so that he won’t think about them anymore. Justin argues for not hedging and for focusing your energy on a single product as Peldi Guilizzoni did with Balsamiq, which grossed over 200K in its first year.
  • Sam wants to build software that will make the world a better place. Justin worries about the moral implications of building a company that competes with and potentially ruins competitors. Justin doesn’t want to be a meanie. Jason believes that competition is a necessary ingredient for innovation which net-net is an overall positive for more people.
  • Sam found John Carmack‘s keynote speeches at QuakeCon to be fascinating.
  • Justin mentions Tim Berners-Lee’s talk at TedTalks on the next web. He thought it was cool.  Sam and Jason aren’t convinced and agree with Peter Norvig that the semantic web will remain the future of the web for some time.
  • Sam brings up the brouhaha that resulted from Guido van Rossum‘s unwillingness to support tail recursion in Python.
  • Jason jokes about how his method of version control is to simply to copy the source directory to a backup directory organized by date. Justin is shocked at Jason’s brazen apostasy and launches into an extended rant about the importance of version control and specifically advocates the use of tools like Tortoise SVN and Beanstalk (for subversion hosting). Sam at first jokes that he may not be able to talk to Jason any longer since he doesn’t use GIT (because that’s what the cool kids use), but then admits that he doesn’t use version control either since, like Jason, he’s a lone developer.
  • Sam prophecizes that Facebook will have disappeared (or at least not be very important) 10 years from now, but that Google will be still be a force. Jason agrees because he believes Facebook is just a trendy service like Friendster and MySpace.
  • Jason discusses the current status of Preezo and it’s possible future.
  1. Marc Troy says:

    Very interesting Podcast! My first visit here after getting an email from Justin earlier tonight. From a German-listener point of view I’d wish you’d talk a bit slower sometimes. 🙂

    I loved the discussion about Source Control. I’m on Jason’s side as well, editing directly via FTP and I never worried about not having a rollback button.

    Very often I’m working on several tickets/issues at once plus my PM forces me to switch priorities multiple times a day (minor things our clients needs ASAP, etc). I never work on something for several days without any interruption. Under such conditions SVN is a true pain since there’s not enough time to properly add descriptions and do proper check-ins. I’m *much faster* by utilizing md5deep to get a list of changed files and merge manually.

    However I’d be very interested in automating SVN-submits and apply “tags” while coding. For example press a hotkey to inform the SVN client in the background to categorize all the following edits as “issue #67” until I switch to another issue/tag or stop coding. This way I could quickly merge all changes of “issue 67” to the live server.

  2. Peldi says:

    Hey guys, listening to this and I have a few points:

    – the “shwooshing keys” in my demo are easily achieved with Screenflow
    – the demo is in real-time, not sped up

  3. Bruce McGee says:

    Who was it that’s using HAPEdit? Interesting coincidence. Looks like it was written using Delphi. 🙂

  4. @Bruce McGee

    I’ve been using HAPEdit for at least the past five years. It was around 2004 when I first started getting back into web programming and I was searching for a simple text editor that could do syntax coloring for HTML, PHP, Javascript, CSS and SQL and somehow I stumbled across HAPEdit. While it’s not the world’s greatest editor by any a stretch, it’s proved good enough that I haven’t bothered to try anything else. Maybe one of these days I’ll upgrade to a slicker editor, but then again I guess I’m a little stuck in my ways. 😉

  5. Bruce McGee says:


    I’m picking on you for using HAPEdit. It looks quite useful, so more power to you.

    I was just pointing that Delphi is in more common use that one might think. From lesser know tools that haven’t been updated recently (HAPEdit) to higher profile apps still in development (Skype client for Windows). If you take a look at almost any list of “must have” tools and utilities, at least a handful will have been written using Delphi, at least on Windows.

  6. Bruce McGee says:

    whoops. That should read “NOT picking on you”

  7. Hey guys,

    I’ve just started getting into your podcasts after seeing number 10 on reddit. This one was really interesting! I would love to start my own company some day, but I’m lacking a killer idea at the momement – where did you say you post your ideas for free Justin? I would love to have a look.

    I don’t mean to critisise but this podcast sounded like there was an on-going beeping noise in the background which was a little annoying.

    Keep up the good work!

  8. admin says:

    @Eddy Seager
    Thanks for the kind words. The blog where I post my startup ideas is over at

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