Archive for September 2000

2000/09/12 12 Sep


"The number of dumb things going on here exceeds my limited ability to grok all at once. I'm a bit overwhelmed with what a feeble business idea this is."

Read my full review of DigitalConvergence's new Cat:

Wasting money on cats

New office!

Fog Creek Software has a new office. We moved in yesterday:


The office is located about a block from South Street Seaport. It has windows everywhere, a full kitchen, and some exciting bright-red walls (but not for long!)

2000/09/18 18 Sep and URL forwarding

A good friend, looking for a CTO job in NYC, called me to ask what I thought about He sort of thought that because "" has a big ad for on the bottom, that I was affiliated with them in some way.

Actually, the correct URL for Joel on Software is supposed to be "", where I sure as heck don't have any ads for

But I wanted to reserve the domain name "" for when I get rich and can afford to host it myself. So I used to register the new domain name, and then used's "free" URL redirection service.

And that's the problem: their free redirection service frames your site with a big fat ad. Lame.

For now, I've added a little bit of Javascript to get rid of the ad that they put up... but it still flashes briefly. Now I'm kind of hoping that people mistakenly believe that if you use, your web page will have a big ad. That would teach them to sneak their nasty ads in where they don't belong!

Cobalt Qube

We've set up a Cobalt Qube for Fog Creek. It's doing a nice job as a web server, email server, CVS server, firewall, NAT, and a few other things I haven't figured out yet. All told, we got all this stuff running with about 3 hours of work between us... compared to several days of work when I set up the same thing for myself on a new Linux box at home.

When the Qube came out about a year ago at $999, they bragged about how it "doesn't need a keyboard and monitor" and therefore can be a lot cheaper than a PC running Linux. Well, this thing is still $999, now a heck of a lot more expensive than the equivalent PC, and I'm sure it's still selling like hotcakes... know why? It's because of the software. Software adds value faster than it adds cost. Prediction: Cobalt will outsource all the hardware stuff and become a pure software company.

2000/09/19 19 Sep

As if there weren't enough reasons not to use Cue Cat, the company can't even keep it's customer data private.

2000/09/25 25 Sep


Does your employment contract include a non-compete clause?

I've started hearing of some companies with the chutzpah to require a two-year non-compete clause in the employment contract. That's nuts. What am I supposed to do? Go two years without a job? Go back to graduate school? Some of these companies have such grandiose/paranoid ideas of who their competitors are that they consider everyone a competitor.

I loathe these things (see my earlier story on the topic), so Fog Creek will never have a non-compete clause. When I mentioned this to a lawyer who works with a lot of high tech startups, this is what he said: "We're trying to get all the employers to put them in. Provide a united front. So that employees don't have any choice." Who, exactly, does this benefit if everybody has the same clause?

I'll tell you who it benefits. Me. Because I'll hire you even if you don't want to sign a restrictive non-compete clause that makes you scared to ever look for another job in your field.

The "Hello, World" company

Over the last four or five weeks I've been shocked, shocked at how much work it takes just to create a company that doesn't do anything.

Payroll, incorporation, certificate of good standing, Federal EIN, Authorization to do Business, Workman's Compensation, liability insurance, health insurance, business checking account, I-9 forms, W-4 forms, SS-4 forms, Payroll Direct Deposit, domain name registration, trademark search, ...

Oh, wait, I forgot. Articles of incorporation, shareholders resolutions, election of the board of directors, by-laws, founders' agreements, flounder agreement, baked flounder and spam, halibut and spam, plain spam, spam spam eggs and spam, and spam spam spam spam spam spam bacon spam and spam.

2000/09/28 28 Sep

Coming next week: how to write specs!

Good service

I wrote to Starbucks. "The grease pencils which you use to mark up the coffee cups (in New York, at least) wind up leaving ugly black goo on my hands every time I order a Starbucks beverage," I said. "Please consider finding some kind of marker for the cups that does not come right off on my fingers."

(See what drinking too much coffee makes you do?)

"Cynthia B." in Starbucks Customer Relations replied promptly: "I shared your suggestion for using a different type of marking pen in our New York locations with the Retail Operations Department for their attention."

We'll see!

2000/09/29 29 Sep

This is strange.

In 1960, almost 40 years before the Internet came along, Barbra Streisand drops the "a" from her first name.

Of course, with the unusual spelling, it's much easier to find her in search engines, on Amazon, etc.

That woman has incredible foresight.

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Historical Archive

1114 posts over 16 years. Everything I’ve ever published is right here.

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Now that you’ve read all that —

There’s a software company in New York City dedicated to doing things the right way and proving that it can be done profitably and successfully.

Fog Creek Software