Saturday, December 30, 2006

ServiceGadget released

This past week I put the final touches on ServiceGadget, the small service business program based on ChimSoft. Luckily when I designed ChimSoft, I always had the idea in mind of being able to use the base code to work for modules of different industries, so now with only one extra step in the code build various features will automatically be added or stripped out. I'm treating ServiceGadget as a traditional mISV/shareware type program which is totally new to me. It will be interesting to see how different it sells since I am using PAD files, and am more reliant on Google AdWords. Both ServiceGadget and ChimSoft are technically 2.0 now, but there are quite a few features/changes I still plan on adding in the coming month.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Love Letters From Nigeria

Well coincidentally I was going to post another funny 409 scamster email here today, when I got a comment from an Anonymous commenter in response to my "Scamster Respond" post:

Hi Phil, I was researching the name Marcus Cambell Black and came upon your blog. It is very interesting to me that you found him to be a scammer. I am a US citezen and i was looking for a nanny job and got an offer in the UK by a Mr. Bill Williams, via the e-mail address . He offered to pay 200 pounds a week and would pay for my flight. I have been e-mailing him trying to find more about him and his family. I have asked repeatedly to receive pictures and a phone call from him, but he has been simply sending me the same e-mail over and over again. I finally received pictures, one supposedly of him and his son, the other of his wife and daughter. They both looked posed so i googled them. I found the same picture of him and his son on a stock photo website. I also found it suspicious that he was using the name Bill Williams while he said his family was the Marcus family. (notice on your blog that Mr. Black got the internet from his friend 'williams') If you have any more information on mr. black please post it on your blog and i will check back here soon. Thank you so much for you help!

Wow, what other scams are these people into? Anonymous commenter is lucky to be savvy enough to smell a rat. It's still amazing to me that even though Americans have lost a reported $8 billion, more then the Gross Domestic Product of Mongolia (Here's a good business idea for you Mongolia...), there is still very little effort to actually catch or stop any of these scams.

I have noticed a trend where the scamsters are claiming they are from the UK and using more UK-based email addresses lately (, I suppose it's possible they are actually based there, but I still see more Lagos IP's then London.

Here's todays fun email:


it is an insult unto my personalty for you to flag me for a potential fraud.i am now warning that if thi continuesx i wont essitate to call on my lawyer.rthanks alot.JYDE AWESOM

Yikes, please don't essitate! Besides the fact that nothing done by me to block the scam attempts is illegal, and that you can't sue for being insulted (well at least a foreign national can't), I again checked for proof that this may be a scammer...

Again, sight unseen I emailed him from a different email address telling him I would accept his offer, without mentioning any make or model of a car:

jide seyi"

Subject: Re: Your Car

hi,fill but thats not the amount yyou posted on the ads for the car.i would like us to start arrangement based on the price you pasted on the net .thanks alot.

George Anderson is it now? Why does your from still say Jide Seyi? I'll be sure to give him a more fair price, and leave my usual forwarding address of the Secret Service.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Change of Plan

When I first started on ChimSoft back in January 2005, I had never heard the term MicroISV. My previous experience in the software world had been at two startups, one that sold Court Reporting software for $5k a pop, and another that sold Enterprise Management software for $20k-100k. So when I heard the idea of software for chimney sweeps, my first instinct was to make it like the court reporting software. On the phone or in-person sales, 24/7 800-number support, price tag that justifies the niche.

Before I started development, I did market research, determined the size of the chimney sweep market, what would be involved in development and support, and priced the product appropriately. Feedback from sweeps I talked to indicated the price was fair, and if it delivered as promised, worth every penny. But from the beginning the plan was never to have JUST chimney sweep software. The market is too small. We planned on making a generic service industry software, with plugins for various niches, like Chimney Sweeps, plumbers, etc... Sweeps still say the price is fair, but the sales cycle is a lot longer then I anticipated. We are one of the best products out there, and try as they might, our customers just cannot find something that does as good of a job, as simply and as straightforward as ChimSoft. So even a year after talking to a sales lead for the first time, I'm still receiving calls about how they want to buy any second, and could they see another demo. Larger companies were buying only one or two copies for their office, while hesitating on the value of the product in the field. I want to make the choice easier.

So...starting todayish...SearTech is officially moving towards being more MicroISV-like. ChimSoft will be available for download, demo, and purchase entirely without talking to a single person. In fact, we are nixing the 800 number. Upgrades are no longer free for a year, and support will be entirely by email. Features that were a pain to implement and maintain, that we thought would be big selling points, ended up being the least interesting of all, so those are gone. It may sound like a much lesser product now, but really we have taken the feedback of our existing customers and potential customers and cut ChimSoft to a mean-lean piece of software. To reflect this, the price will drop to $299. Although the original price of ~$2k was fair, and people did purchase at that price, it required a lot more thought. $2k is a lot for a single Chimney Sweep, and $2k times X computers is a lot for a large Chimney Sweep. We want more people using our product, although I anticipate the revenue to be about the same.

In addition, SearTech will soon be launching the software we always planned to launch, the "generic" service software that contractors, painters, plumbers, or anyone else running a small service business can use. The price of this software will be $199, plus $99 for specific industry modules that will be developed in the future. We are still working on a name for this, if you have any ideas (with a domain that is available) I'm all ears.

The hardest part about making this move is worrying about the people who did pay the higher price in the past. To help ease that pain, first we will provide the support we promised, free updates for a year, etc... In addition, if they have purchased in the past 60 days, they will receive a credit towards ChimSoft support or updates.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Browser Stats Update

A feel for what your average (non-techy) web user may be using... IE7 adoption is better then I expected.

Internet Explorer 85.2%
Firefox 11.5%
Safari 2.6%
Netscape .63%

Internet Explorer by version
6.0 81.66%
7.0 17.22%
5.5 .65%

Firefox by version
1.5.08 57.34%
2.0 24.91%
1.0.7 3.92%

Saturday, December 09, 2006


I hit a temporary lull in productivity lately (no it's not the Wii!), but now I'm back to checking things off the task list. I finally got around to updating the Used Car Maintenance section on Used Cars On-Line for the new look. If you haven't tried it, I would appreciate any feedback you have!