In my ‘day job’ I work as a freelance programmer, usually working remotely with a team of 3-12 other programmers, writing relatively heavyweight, multi-threaded Windows applications, often NT Services that access Sql Server. But, on the side (and no secret to my consulting clients), I’ve been pushing for a couple of years to come up with and develop my own software products.
Yes, folks, I want to be a microISV when I grow up. (ISVs are Independent Software Vendors, microISVs are very, very small software companies, with, say 1-5 employees. The ‘software division’ of my company has exactly 1 employee today; we’re hoping to jump all the way to 1.25 next week when my intern converts to a paid, part-time employee.)
I’ve actually been making some slow progress on a phone app with an extremely narrow target market that I hope will be my first revenue generating product. But, in the meantime, I seem to have a lot of irons in the fire right now and one of them is being a mentor for the Google Summer of Code. This is a huge adventure to me. The open source toolset and dev processes are quite foreign to my standard coding environment and I have, painfully, been Learning A Lot.
But I ran across one of those little annoyances that are supposed to make a lightbulb go off over the head of a wannabe software author: I had a terrible time posting the IRC office hours that I volunteered for. The trick was that we had to post the office hours in terms of three time zones:
- EDT — no sweat, I’m in Mountain but I routinely work with groups on the east coast, so I live a dual MDT/EDT lifestyle.
- GMT (aka UTC), which is a bit tricky this time of year — I live in GMT-7 but you only add 6 to get to GMT when the US goes to daylight savings, and
- IST (Indian Standard Time) which is GMT+5:30, which I’ve never worked with routinely before.
The final straw, I think, was that we were asked to post our US times in am/pm format and the other two in 24-hour format and there was just something mind-bending about the whole experience.
So: I wanted to write a very simple office hours time widget — nothing general purpose, just a quick web page where you could enter stop and start times in your local timezone and get the times to post on the office hours web page. Now my html skills are . . . well, serviceable may be the kindest adjective they deserve. But, I am extraordinarily lucky right now to have a high school intern whose html skills are just fine, thank you. So, thanks to my guy Hokan, we here at Sheridan Programmers Guild have published our first tiny fragment of useful code, the SOC IRC Office Hours widget!