A Plea to the Right

I read about the security breach that Trump made yesterday, when the story broke on The Washington Post and subsequently I read the other stories on CNN and the like.
I also read where Trump majorly expanded the Mexico City rule creating the “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Initiative” yesterday. There was also the story that broke yesterday that Trump is packing the courts with like minded people at a blistering pace. The Syria/ISIS security breach took first place, but the other stories happened too.
As many of you know, I have always considered Mike Pence, Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, and of course Darrell Izza (R-CA) more dangerous, however I changed my opinion yesterday and Trump is the single biggest national security threat this country has EVER known, bar none, not even the Soviets in the 1950s and 1960s.
Trump unlike what Allen states is not just ignorant. He is very cleaver and a sociopath. He did not get to where he is without knowing how to manipulate people, the media, businesses, and officials to do his evil bidding.
It is time for the right to put pride and specific goals (abortion, climate change, fossil fuels, increasing the debt, lowering taxes on the rich, gerrymandering, etc.) aside and realize that Trump has to go. The right lives in this country too.
Trump is not a left problem but an American problem. It is time that he immediately get impeached, removed from office, and prevented from playing a part in politics ever again and of course running for any office of any kind.
I would excuse one thing, but Trump has not just one thing against him, but many.
To my colleagues on the right, let us say that Hilary messed up with the email server and that Bengazi is the way that the right portrays (she obviously did not murder children and did not molest any children), you would then have to grant the left at least have, if not all that we are saying. What Trump has done pales in comparison to anything that Hilary did or would have done.
I implore people across the United States to get together to start the process to remove Trump from office.

What Everyone Regardless of Party Must Do

So much of politics is governed by talking points, reciting facts the media give (okay relates mostly to the right, but the left is equally guilty), and of course voting the party ticket as given to each voter, because people are lazy, ignorant, not involved in politics/civics, and an idiot. People feel that their vote does not count or that they are too stupid to have an opinion.
There are many things in life that tick me off, but nothing as much as not doing your homework, having not the facts, and not listening to your heart. I could write a book on how religion has corrupted society and people, but I will bite my tongue on this one for this article. People spout one-liners and are such idiots.
I will pick on the left, as that is so easy to do. For instance, all the Bernie followers that say that he is on the outside and that he speaks to them, blah, blah, blah. “I love you Bernie.” One cannot forget the “Bernie or Bust” and “Write in Bernie”. Seriously, even typing this paragraph I am getting hot. This whole Bernie movement is nothing more than willful ignorance and buying in of the left by the right-wing propaganda of Hilary. She is no saint. Heck, she has many faults, many of them shared with Trump. Both are perfect and entitled, just in different ways on this topic. Okay, Trump is perfect in every way and has the perfect bill of health, even if he does need a chiropractor, exercise, and seriously lose weight.
The right has other issues, not the least of which is ignorance and a dreamlike state of looking at the past through rose-colored glasses. Roses have thorns and the past is best left there, in the past, just educate yourself from the past.
I heard recently that people were much healthier in the past. There was no such thing as autism and various other diseases. Seriously, people are ignorant. Getting diabetes prior to 1924 meant a death sentence, but that fact is lost on people. Cancer meant death. The list goes on. Yes, there was such a thing as the LGBT and everything else back then too.
People of the past, especially during the enlightenment period fought back, because they were not educated or able to keep up, so there was a backlash into religion and being told what to do. We see that same behavior now. The computer age and the internet has educated people, but left an awful lot of others not knowing what to do, so they gravitate to people, who will tell them what to do. Here is where Putin, Trump, and others, even Bernie, come into the picture.
What I want is for people to think for themselves. As I said, there are a huge numbers annoyingly voted for Bernie without any real reason or knowledge of the facts, and of Republicans and Libertarians is to research the facts. Be able to argue the facts. Do NOT use one-liners or talking points from either side.
I am an engineer. I guess that I always have been one. I deal in facts and do research on whatever the topic. Even when it comes to the arts, I like to know what I am watching/listening to, which is why I like to attend the preshow before a performance that explains what I will see.
It is easy to tell you or anyone else to vote the way that I want you to vote, but that does an injustice. That sets people up for the next lunatic, who can talk. I am the last person on this planet to be a smooth talker. I do not like bars by any stretch of one’s imagination (Bush and why people voted for the guy), but I do know facts and have opinions.
It is in facts and logic, where all of us can meet. I love a discourse. Maybe that is from my time in university, but I do love a discussion based on hard core facts and what is best for the country. Too many people, more on the right, but equally as we saw on the left, go into ridiculous ideas of what a President should be.
A President is not:
  • an outsider: dumb. A President needs the knowledge of how to work congress and BOTH sides of the aisle. That comes from doing, not book learning or running a company.
  • someone who can talk one-liners: Republicans have this area nailed. One-liners does not do jack shit. Okay, I will create a new one-liner: Green-baby-green. Does that help or is it better to talk of real facts?
  • Someone with whom you can have a beer: What bitch dreamed that up? I need a President to be smarter than I am, to have ideas, to want other people, who are smarter than him telling him facts and standing up for them. In my time in engineering and advising people on job searches (butterflyvista.com and progressivesleading.com), I have found teamwork, where everyone has a vested interest and does their homework works best. I have a Republican colleague and I work very nicely with him. I enjoy his company and we actually see eye-to-eye on several fronts. He has a cute daughter too.
  • one of us: Ask yourself honestly, if you could go right in to the Presidency and lead the entire planet. 99% cannot. It is the same percentage that “trickle down economics” will help them. Helping the rich will NOT help you.
  • Someone who ignores half of America: Think what you want about President Barack Obama, and I should add that I did not vote for him in the first primaries, but he actually did reach out multiple times to the right. That the right did not want to reach out to him, because they were hell bent on denying him everything, is a different story. A President is someone who can united all of America and inspire all of America. That is not Trump or the current Republican party.
It would be nice if Republicans would admit that Fox, Breitbart, The National Enquirer, and The Globe are doing a disservice to humanity.
Here is a headline: “Trump kills Hilary Clinton plea deal.” That is such total bullshit, but Republicans eat that up. That is in this week’s Globe, available at your local market at the checkout stand. I love the one about “Trump has a plan to bring world peace,” forgetting that he cannot do that here at home and does the opposite.
I think that I speak for Allen Clifton (forwardprogressives.com) and hopefully Keith in that people should open their eyes, get educated, and speak from their hearts. Being told what to think is wrong. Do that yourself.
In short, I am not doing anyone a service if I tell them what to think or tell them the facts. Each of you must do your own research. Google and Wikipedia should be your friends. Yes, you can use Bing too, if that is what you like to use. Do not believe either side.
By the way, each vote does count. Please do your own research and do not cite talking points.
One last point: A family, like a chain, is as strong as the weakest link. The United States is like a chain and a family. We are as strong as the weakest among us.
It is through:
  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • A healthy planet
  • Safety
  • Good policies

Health is where we can all thrive. Health is not something with which you play Russian Roulette, but that is a different topic.

Do research and think for yourself. Be able to cite facts.

One last point, destroying is easy and fast, but healing is slow. Anyone who tells you that they can magically wave a wand is an idiot.

My Take on the Implosion of Trumpcare and What We Should Do From Here

Most progressives would like to see the Affordable Care Act (ACA) replaced with universal health care, either by expanding Medicare to all or by simply creating universal health coverage, which I presume would mean getting rid of Medicaid and Medicare in favor of Universal Healthcare. Allen Clifton expresses this sentiment quite well. I want to offer my take on the whole topic.

If you read my blog or comments that I leave on this topic, you already know that I am quite vocal that the solution is something similar to what Senate Minority Leader Chuck Shumer proposed on CNN on Friday, when talking about the collapse of Trumpcare, namely adding in a public option, which I presume would be free to those need the help or have no insurance. Personally, I would give every American a bronze level package with the upper levels provided by insurance companies. The ACA would still govern all healthcare.

In my opinion, a “repeal and replace,” where we repeal the ACA and replace the act with universal coverage would not work and would be a mistake. Let me explain. The Republicans back in 1993 had the right idea, just Democrats were not on board and there was this whole wing against the Clintons, not to mention the impeachment when President Clinton lied about his affair with Monika Lewinsky and the “depends on what the definition of is, is” thing.

In 1993 Republican Senator John Chafee of Rhoda Island, the father of current Senator Lincoln Chafee, introduced a bill called “Health Equality and Access Reform Today Act of 1993” or “HEAR Act of 1993”. This webpage compares the ACA with the HEAR Act. There are many similarities and some notable differences.

One difference is of course Medicaid expansion. It is hard to comprehend Republicans embracing Medicaid expansion, when the fought so vigorously against Medicare and Medicaid. The HEAR Act included medical malpractice reform. I do not know the details of what that entailed and if that was good for the rich or benefited society. I can, however see this provision as something with which Democrats could find common ground with Republicans. Heck, depending on the provisions, I might be open to it.

I am not sure what Senator John Chafee had in mind with “Equal Tax Treatment for Insurance of Self Employed”. I know that the ACA does not offer this provision. Equal tax treatment for health insurance for self-employed seems fair. The ACA prohibits insurance companies from setting lifetime spending caps. I see no reason why the right would in that time be open to eliminating lifetime limits like the ACA does today. That is a popular provision and a correct one. The idea is to give healthcare to all Americans.

The ACA extends coverage to depends until the age of 26, a quite popular provision and one that even Republicans of today were happy to keep in Trumpcare, so I see no reason why John Chafee would not have been in favor of that then had the thought come up.

The last difference is that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO did not come up with a price tag. I am not sure the reason here. The CBO estimated the ACA as $871 million over 10-years. The ACA will cover 94% of Americans by 2019, 10-years after the introduction of the bill. The HEAR Act was to cover 92% to 94% by 2005, 12-years after introduction of the bill.

Before going any further, Hillary Clinton and the Democrats wanted universal health coverage with a single payer. Republicans were at the time, as some Democrats, dead set against that. That was why the Republican Party came up with the HEAR Today Act of 1993. As I understand events, House Speaker Newt Gingrich was set to strike a deal with President Clinton and the Democrats on Health Care, but then Monika Lewinsky happened. Republicans were all on board back then for the HEAR Today Act, so the acts demise was at the hands of Democrats, sad, as years later Democrats introduced an updated version of the HEAR Act, which the right hates.

The problem was that Democrats did not realize that you cannot get universal coverage at the stroke of a pen and not have problems and get everyone on board. They eventually realized that back in 2009, when they crafted the Affordable Health Care Act of 2009. The approach was to do something about healthcare, but keep the system largely in place and something that all parties including the insurance companies could buy into. That was, basically the Republican approach.

If the right would get beyond politics, the HEAR Today Act or known today as the ACA is a huge first step, a wonderful step. Sadly, we have the left flanks of the Democratic Party chanting the reframes from 1993 wanting “Universal Health Care or Bust”. Seriously, has the population of the planet not tired of the “Bernie or Bust?” We have bust and see where that got everyone? Unbelievable!

Allen Clifton wrote quite nicely about what Bernie Sanders, himself, and many Progressives want. They talk about the failings of the ACA and the high cost, because insurance companies are for profit. I, however, disagree with part of what Allen said. The reason Republicans effort to rewrite healthcare failed was because moderate Republicans did not think that Trumpcare went far enough, as Allen did say, however the Freedom Caucus, a group of ultra-conservative/radical Republicans, who hold much sway, felt that Trumpcare went too far and that it was “Obamacare Lite” and infringed upon insurance companies and freedoms (to screw people and make huge amounts of money for the rich, IMHO). In the end, the two diverse camps in the Republican Party could not come together.

It is another thing that Republicans want to screw the 99% and do not care about the 99%. “ALL” Republicans are on board with screwing over the 99%. The question is just how much and how soon. The $75 billion would never have gone to the public or if it did would be stripped down. I could have imaged a “block grant” to the states to put into their Republican leader’s pockets.

Democrats had the same problem but were able to come together to pass the ACA. Even now there is fighting within the Democratic Party, like I said.

If you look beyond words, Universal Healthcare, what Allen and Bernie want, is possible with what Chuck Shumer proposed the other day with a “public option” added onto the ACA law. I can imagine Medicare expansion for all at a reasonable or free cost. A Public Option is a next “baby step” to the ACA, a logical progression.

Big changes all at once are rarely possible. When Democrats united and adopted a modified HEAR Today Act and rebranded the document as the ACA, the law got passed and has become quite successful. Now that people start to understand the act and like the provisions, people stood up in droves to defend the law and kill Trumpcare. Nobody wants to go back. See? That was a progressive change, just 16-years later than it should have been. A “Public Option” would be the next logical step and one that the Democratic Minority Leader, Chuck Shumer wants, not to mention I support. Going “Universal Healthcare or Bust” will screw everyone. We have been down this road.

We must win back control of Congress and then get the White House. Additionally, the 2 sides have to stop fighting and have to develop a spine, because passing the ACA was how we lost Congress in the first place. Do not forget that Republicans at the time were spreading lies and saying “no”, which the public bought up.

Also, if Progressives were able to get universal health care, the right would probably be united in unraveling it, as all are opposed to that. A Public Option would seem the most prudent. That is a baby step towards universal healthcare. It was this “baby step” that allowed for passage of the ACA in the first place.

The good news is that hopefully House Speaker Paul Ryan meant what he said that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land and will be. There is not a Democrat, who would not say that the ACA needs work. That was a common sentiment back when the law was passed. It was a good start, an awesome one.

Republicans should be asking for malpractice reform, equal tax treatment for self-employed, and other reasonable changes to health care. The best way to reduce the deficit and get everyone employed is to start with giving everyone healthcare inclusive of checkups, women’s health care, mental health, and all the other things that one needs to work. Health Care is a right, not a privilege, just we need to get there.

I look forward to Republicans swallowing their pride that Democrats and an African American President passed their bill and called it the ACA instead of the HEAR Today Act and offer real changes, such as the two that I mentioned, which I took from Republican Senator John Chafee’s bill. By the way, his son, Lincoln Chafee, current Senator from Rhoda Island, was originally a Republican, but then switched allegiance.

Please comment, like, share, and follow. Tell your friends about Progressives Leading.

Elections Have Consequences and an Election Do-Over

More and more I see that Trump is an exaggeration of Republicans as a whole. Getting rid of Trump would not make anyone better off, as then we would have Mike Pence, Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, or any other nut job on the right. They are all dangerous. Yes, Trump arguably is more dangerous, as he is a sociopath, but Pence is no better.

Trump in many ways is better than Pence. Let me explain. Trump is a lightning rod for the left, who galvanizes people to rally against him in a way no other Republican can do. Bush II, Newt, Ryan, McConnell were/are just as evil, however he was not a sociopath or galvanize public sentiment in the way that Trump does. Getting rid of Trump would “quiet” the left but leave someone more insidious on the right. That really would leave the right free to do more harm. The left should be careful of what it wishes for, because replacing Trump with a Democrat can only happen in 2020, so our goal is to keep him in check until 2018 and then make him a lame duck President in the way Republicans did for Obama. By the way, Obama and Clinton were the right’s lightening rod and it got them far.

No. A do-over will not teach Democrats a lesson. If the rest of the U.S. is like Los Angeles, then the left needs a lesson.

  1. I was not fooled by Trump, the Russians, or anyone other crackpot. Trump was not even in the same class as Hillary in the debates. I would have tossed his ass out after 5-minutes on the first debate with his first “lock her up” and interruption. That many, many people bought into that and even the media (CNN, MSNBC) is whose fault?
  1. “Bernie or Bust”: I cannot tell you how many “Bernie or Bust” signs I saw around and on the freeway. On November 8th, I saw “write in Bernie”. There was street gatherings to promote Bernie mind you Hillary had won and Bernie was out. These people were all drinking Kool-Aid laced with some sort of drug.
  1. To this day, the only Hillary sign was in my room. I donated and got my magnets and stickers, so they were on prominent display. There was not one single pro-Hillary sign anywhere to the best of my knowledge here. If there were, and that is a huge if, it must have been kept in a secet underground location away from everyone.

If California was against Hillary because she has a vagina and not a penis and because the left believed many of the lies that the right said (child molester, murderer, unfit, beholden to Wall Street, does not want Universal Health Care [she pioneered the concept here in the U.S. in ’94], etc.), then you can imagine the rest of the U.S.

As the saying goes on “Once Upon a Time” (ABC, Sundays at 8:00 PM, write in to ABC to renew for season 7), all magic comes with a price. “Bernie or Bust” comes with a price, namely Trump and the Republicans.

The Democrats still do not get the message. They refuse to go against Gorsuch’s nomination because of fear that the right will go nuclear. Democrats are afraid of their own shadow. I would not mind saying “boo” to senators on the left and seeing what happens.

The Democrats and public did not care about the Supreme Court on or before November 8th, when Republicans were stealing the seat, but now everyone is saying “give Trump a chance to govern” (Joe Biden). Why exactly? They stole the seat and are committing treason, so why exactly?

Democrats need to suffer for about 18 months until the next election. If people suffer enough, hopefully most to all Republicans in the house will go bye-bye and all 8-Republican seats in the senate giving Democrats 56 votes in the Senate.

Democrats still are not fixing this mess. Just take a look at local elections. We won one local election, however lost quite a few more. Pennsylvania is today, so we shall see what happens. Republicans played politics and refused to allow the Democrat on the ballot, so we shall see if the write-in effort works. Basically, is the left sick enough yet? Today will tell.

A do-over if the FBI proves collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, which was obvious from the get-go would not solve the problem in the long run. People need to see that elections have consequences. “Bernie or Bust” type of mentality has consequences. IOKIYAR (it is okay if you are a Republican) has consequences. People need to wake the fuck up, to borrow a phrase from Amazon’s now canceled Hand of God (season 2). 52% of voters have a love affair with Satan (the Republicans) and are ignorant. Well, the best cure for ignorance is suffering and seeing that ignorance comes with a cost. Getting out of jail free, when the problem keeps happening over and over again for many decades, is not a lesson. Elections have consequences.

In the meantime attention should go to saving the ACA (Affordable Care Act) and other key issues, not the least of which is denying Republicans anything.


Analyzing Trumpcare and what the CBO had to say

I already talked of health care in a previous post, but wanted to continue the topic.

When I talked about the individual mandate on my last healthcare post, I forgot to mention that the penalty for not having healthcare goes to the government and pegged to healthcare. The insurance companies get none of that penalty. The people do. The cost goes to defray future costs.

Republicans have no issues with the concept, as they force people to do things all the time. Even in Massachusetts, Republicans implemented the Affordable Care Act by a different name complete with individual mandates. A tweet mentioned in this article capsulized the Republican thinking about individual mandates.

GOP sparked legal battle over the mandate, which they called Tyranny. But a larger penalty, paid directly to companies, is Not Tyranny. But now, GOP is totally fine forcing people to buy health insurance. Mandate wasn’t punitive or profitable enough for Insurance firms.

Republicans have always scorned the lower and middle class and favored the top 1%. Raegan-omics, which caused massive taxes, was set described as trickle-down economics, a failed concept, even from a theoretical point of view. Giving money to rich bankers and CEOs will never result in them selflessly giving money to everyone else. We are talking about the same group of people that have multi-million dollar parachutes coupled with multi-million dollar yearly income (in various forms).

These same CEOs launder money and stash money overseas looking for any and every way to pay no taxes. If they were so selfless, these people would pay taxes. We see that they do not. Look no further than Trump, who prides himself on paying no taxes for over 20-years. He refuses to share his tax return, even now that he is in office. He has never done a charitable thing in his life.

I cannot think of a single Republican that helps the lower and middle class. They do everything to push them down making statements like: “If the lower class wants healthcare, they should give up their iPhones and instead buy health insurance.” An iPhone costs $32 per month, while health insurance costs anywhere from $400 to $1200 per month. Republican representatives make statements that poor people are poor, because they are lazy and do not want to exercise or eat healthy. These and other statements are not only ignorant, but arrogant, cruel, and sadistic.

Republicans want to abolish the social safety net at all costs, not because of financial concerns, but because of ideological concerns. Illegal voting is pseudocode for African American and other minorities voting. Polluting the rivers and environment is not a concern, even though that effects every American. We get one-liners talking about “drill baby, drill” without regard to the destruction that it causes.

The individual mandate exists in other forms, like I previously mentioned, in auto insurance. There is an individual mandate to pay income tax. Republican idea for tax reform is tax the poor (12% to 15%) and help the rich (39% to 35% for individuals making $450,000 or more and reduce the capital gains, which only affect the rich). Mandates that help the rich are totally fine and justifiable.

Employer Sponsored Health Care: The intent of the individual mandate was never about the individuals, as Republicans have never cared about individuals. Trumpcare does away with the requirement that large corporations must provide health insurance. That was all the time their biggest gripe. As a side note, companies with less than 50 employees are exempt from this requirement.

Covering More People: The CBO noted that the refundable tax credit would not cover any more people than repealing healthcare outright. Poor people tend not to pay taxes and certainly would not be able to purchase health insurance with a refundable tax credit that Republican would then reduce in time. Compare that to the Affordable Care Act, which augments Medicaid, offsets costs of health insurance if your income is below a certain amount, and has health exchanges, such as the Covered California set up by California. States that implemented the Affordable Care Act worked!

Lower Income and Middle Class Coverage: The Congressional Budget Office today (Monday, March 13, 2017) estimated that the number of uninsured people would grow by 14 million in 2018 as the result of the Republican Trumpcare plan and grow beyond that to 24 million with more years out. Basically, 24 million people, who now have health insurance would lose their health insurance under the Republican plan.

Additionally, these 24 million people would become not only a financial liability on society for providing healthcare, but many, who now work may wind up sick and then placed on the social safety net thereby increasing both the federal and state debt. Moreover, sick people tend to make others sick. So those that vote for the Republican plan or support them might get sick, who otherwise may not have with these sicknesses not necessarily being the common cold. Do not forget that Republicans get rid of regulations and reversing much of the safety that we now have.

My attempt in this and other posts is not to push one ideology, but rather to focus on improving healthcare for all Americans, and of course, at the most reasonable cost. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a huge step forward by any measure in this effort. For those that advocate Universal Health Insurance, and I believe in that, the ACA is a great add-on. Medicaid and Medicare would cease to roll over to Universal Health Care at the bronze level with various options on top of that being offered by insurance companies and covered by the ACA. As I and many others inclusive of the CBO have stated, the Trumpcare (and other plans put forward by the House) are a huge step backwards.

A healthy citizenship along with a functioning federal government is the first step to reducing the deficit and employing everyone. One cannot work if they are sick. Sick people do not work. They are leaches on society. Healthcare is a right, not a function of how rich you are or how old you are.

Let me know what you think and please like, share, follow (Twitter and Facebook), and positively contribute in whatever way to help this cause of taking back and educating America. The American Civil War and WWII must end.

Healthcare: Part 1

I have dreaded this week ever since the November 8, 2016, when Democrats lost all branches of federal government, and Congress takes up the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which the population has waited a long time to get. When I say all branches of federal government, I am including the Supreme Court, as Republicans will vote in one way or the other a Republican.

Already today the House Ways and Means Committee approved the measure in a predawn session today. The House Energy and Commerce Committee endorsed the legislation on a party-line vote of 31 to 23 after a session that lasted more than 27 hours. Paul Ryan expects the pro-forma full House vote on March 20. Republicans have a 39 seat majority in the House. That does not include the 5 vacancies. As Republicans vote like the Borg (Star Trek reference, think collective), the legislation will then get taken up by the Senate, where Republicans hold a 4/5 seat advantage, 5 if one includes the Vice President, Mike Pence. Trump has come out lavishing high praise for the House Plan, dubbed TrumpCare; what else?

This plan opposed by the AMA, doctors, and the majority of Americans will get railroaded more than likely through the legislative process and become law. Before delving further into the law and my thoughts, the Republican position on health care can best be summarized by Kansas Republican Roger Marshall in an interview with Stat News said:

Just like Jesus said, ‘The poor will always be with us.’ … There is a group of people that just don’t want health care and aren’t going to take care of themselves. Just, like, homeless people. … I think just morally, spiritually, socially, (some people) just don’t want health care. The Medicaid population, which is (on) a free credit card, as a group, do probably the least preventive medicine and taking care of themselves and eating healthy and exercising. And I’m not judging, I’m just saying socially that’s where they are. So there’s a group of people that even with unlimited access to health care are only going to use the emergency room when their arm is chopped off or when their pneumonia is so bad they get brought (into) the ER.

This quote says it all. It really does. Mr. Marshall is not an aberration and nor is the Republican position new. Republicans have no clue or care about the low or middle class. They do not care about religion or the country. They do not care about deficits, most of which they directly and provably caused. Republicans are for the rich, gun lobbies, and White Supremacists. One could argue that they are against the rich too, but that is a different discussion and off of health care.

One just has to look at what the facts of the Republican Health Care plan is to know that it is nauseating. This plan even violates their own requirements, namely to do away with the individual mandate and provide “something great” where “nobody will be left behind”, as Trump said repeatedly.

Let us go into the specifics. The facts speak for themselves. Before I delve into that, let me say that the ACA is not mutually exclusive to Universal Healthcare, which both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton pushed, but more on that shortly. For now, we have the plan specifics to enumerate.

Individual Mandate: The Republican plan calls for the elimination of the individual mandate, meaning the requirement that everyone must have health insurance. What does that mean? Under the Republican plan anyone, who goes without insurance for more than a61 days will incur a 30% premium increase for 1-year. Under the affordable care act, the penalty for no health insurance in the year is say for 2016, 2.5% of your total household adjusted gross income, or $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, to a maximum of $2,085. An average gold health insurance is $794 per month. The penalty under the Republican plan is $2,859 ($794 * 0.3 * 12). Republicans “individual mandate” costs the low and middle income earners $774 more at a maximum.

Republicans are merely rewording the individual mandate and branding it under a different name. The difference is that their plan not only harms people, as everyone needs health insurance and health is tantamount to everything in life, but accidents happen all the time. Women need their yearly screening. Not having the individual mandate will cause other people to be sick and healthy people to get sick, who might not have gotten sick. The elimination of the individual mandate will definitely cause premiums to rise, as Republicans are not eliminating preexisting conditions or children.

Health insurance is much like driving a car. If you get into an accident with someone who does not have auto insurance, YOU pay the full price and mercilessly for several years. All State is not in the business of losing money and they could care less that the other party does not have health insurance. Someone has to pay and that is not them. Insurance companies are like Casinos. The house never loses. Besides, do you really think that one should play games with their health?

The only way to win under the Republican plan is for healthy people (read here the stupid and young) to not have insurance for years. That basically means that if anything bad happens, it is up to the public to pay for it.

There is no winning here, not for the rich and definitely not for the poor or middle class. Health insurance is something that like auto insurance everyone needs, even the young and definitely the poor and middle class.

Catastrophic Insurance: I was quite happy to see the absurdity of catastrophic insurance go away. First, everyone needs regular checkups, mental health, and everything else that comes with what is now known as the Bronze level. That is as far cheap as one should get.

Catastrophic insurance premiums for the low and middle class in the Republican plans more than likely, definitely, will cost more than the bronze level now. What the plan covers is basic hospitalization, but not 100% and with a huge deductible. Hospitalization, the associated doctor’s bills, labs, and everything else would bankrupt anyone. Pretty much anyone with catastrophic insurance would be a burden on their family and on society. Catastrophic health insurance is basically doing without, which is not an option.

I say the price will be higher, because without the health insurance tax and Medicaid expansion, the for-profit health insurance companies will be forced to raise prices. Guess who gets to pay? It sure is not the upper class.

The other problem, and that applies to the entire Republican plan, is do we really want to go backwards? Passing the Affordable Care Act was a tremendous first step, just one that I think might go away, if Republicans have anything to say about it.

Entitlements: Entitlements, such as the ability to stay on your parent’s insurance until the age of 26 and the clause for preexisting conditions costs money. That cost only goes away, when everyone pays and everyone benefits. By the way, under the Republican plan, the preexisting exclusion only applies, if you do not lapse on your insurance. Basically, the low and middle class get screwed, because they are the ones that might lapse on their insurance.

Medicaid and Low Income: Republicans plan to do away with Medicaid expansion in 2020. Furthermore, their plan does away with low income assistance, such as in Covered California and similar plans in other states. For low and low-to-middle income, this assistance is a godsend. Republicans favor the rich and want to stick it to the poor with the poor saying thank you, so I cannot think of a better way to do that, then this feature, my eyes turning.

Republicans plan to use this elimination to scale back and change Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid. They never liked the social safety net and want to make the rich even richer and the poor poorer.

Remember, you can summarize every single feature by Mr. Marshall’s comment: “The poor will always be with us. There is a group of people that just don’t want health care and aren’t going to take care of themselves. Just, like, homeless people. … I think just morally, spiritually, socially, (some people) just don’t want health care.”

Their feeling of Medicaid is that Medicaid is a free credit card, who use this credit card, because they do not want to exercise or eat properly. There are close to an infinite number of comments and rebuttals to this idiotic, dangerous, and naïve statement.

Mr. Marshall has never been poor or on Medicaid. My first and last thought would be to tell him to go f*** himself, but that is way too good. Jesus said that, whomever is without sin may cast the first stone. G-d also said that he would spare Sodom and Gomorrah if the Israelites could find one good person. Well, exercising and good diet is not something for the rich. Poor diet and the lack of exercise is an American nightmare.

I grew up on welfare and Medicaid. I can speak first hand to the situation. I hated every minute of it, but it did to some degree provide, thankfully. I always ate healthy and exercised. I swam and jogged whenever I could. I was the one that ate salads and went to salad bars before they became fashionable. I was the one, even in the 4th and 5th grades that when everyone was drinking chocolate milk, Oreo cookies, pizza, and disgusting hamburgers was the one saying: “Yuck!” That was not something that my mom or dad taught me. I still do not drink coffee. I just said that I love myself and why I should start a bad habit.

So, now we have one exception to the Republican’s way of thinking. By the way, I never wanted a handout when I grew up and sure as hell do not want a free credit card. Actually, the opposite is true. Republicans and the rich steel money all the time. They rob from the poor and give to the rich. Republicans, even in this way, are hypocrites. They take a concept spoken frequently by the middle class from rural America and twist facts to suit their needs.

Should I talk about bankers and CEOs? The problem with the low and middle income classes in rural America is that they do not think like a rich person and they superimpose their finances on the rich. Rich pay far less taxes than the poor and middle class. Warren Buffet once said that he pays less taxes than his secretary. Rich people have accountants and lawyers that know how to not pay full taxes. It is the same idiotic statement about capital gains taxes. The poor and middle classes have very few holdings, so any holdings that they have do not count. Only the rich have holdings worth anything to speak about. Capital gains income is taxed separately from W-2 income. Republicans are hell bent on having the rich pay no taxes, because even the 15% is way too much.

Healthcare is the same way. The best way for a healthy and protected America is not spending money on the military, but rather spending money on healthcare, infrastructure, education, and homelessness (mental health issues).

One further thought, it takes a criminal to assume others are criminals. The Republican way of thinking that the poor and middle class are thieves may be because they are thieves. I sure as heck know quite a few examples of Republicans stealing.

I will talk on a separate posting and even more on healthcare on a separate posting, but I did want to finish up that the ACA and Universal Healthcare, which Bernie Sanders supported in his campaign. What few remembered is that Hillary Clinton was the first to trumpet Universal Healthcare. Republicans torpedoed the plan and instead came up with the HERE (HEAR?) Act. I will talk more on that later. As I said, Republicans are hypocrites and Democrats stupid. Democrats were so busy wanting Universal Healthcare in those days that they did not see the ACA as a great first step.

Oh yes, I almost forgot. Universal healthcare would provide what I hope would be Bronze level healthcare for all Americans and do away with Medicaid and Medicare. People could then purchase additional coverage through insurance companies at an additional cost. This additional insurance is, well, the ACA. That means that I would have to pay only a couple hundred dollars for the additional benefits. Everyone without regard to income would get basic healthcare. Everyone should get basic education too. That is the way to guarantee safety and security. That does not come by spending on nuclear weapons. Health and prosperity comes from loving the planet and making the air, water, and environment as clean as it can be.

In sure, Trump and the Republican health care plan, Trumpcare, can best be summarized as follows: “Make America Sick Again.”

Choosing a Development Language



A new member recently asked me which development environment he should choose. He said that he was just starting off and wanted a platform that would maximize his chances of succeeding, while giving him the maximum flexibility. I thought about the question a bit and realized that this question applies to seasoned developers as well.

Current Options

I’ve used Visual Studio 2005 Professional (VS05) and C# for some months now on a couple of projects. Between the two applications, I’ve used quite a bit of both C# and the .Net Framework. I can honestly say that aside from distribution, installation, and possible speed issues surrounding the Microsoft .Net Framework that Microsoft created a winner. You’re reading an article from a software developer that used to swear by the Win32 SDK and the one who always disliked and avoided Microsoft’s Foundation Class libraries even when the rest of the computer community long since embraced the architecture.

With that said, here are the choices. One can choose VB6 (or similar product), C++, C#, or Delphi (Pascal). Borland’s C++ Builder and Microsoft’s new C# have much in common, as both offer a combined graphical and coding environment, much like that of VB6. C# goes further and implements features of VB, PHP, and Java to create an impressive language and uses Microsoft’s new and enhanced .Net Framework v2.0. Other possibilities include straight C/C++ using your own classes, assembly language, and a few other less popular languages/environments.

Many authors choose and swear by Borland’s Delphi . The product, which markets itself as a Rapid Application Development platform, goes a long way to that end. Effectively, Delphi does to Turbo Pascal what Microsoft Visual BASIC did to plain BASICA (Quick BASIC).

Industry Trends and You

If your desire is to be marketable as an engineer to large companies and to be looking towards the future, then without a doubt you will want to verse yourself in everything .Net v2.0 and C# for windows and web forms. Knowing C++ with .Net comes in a close second. Most companies have jumped onto the.Net v2.0 bandwagon, so you would be wise to use the latest version and not an earlier one.

When it comes to what language is the best for commercial distribution of shareware applications to the general masses, the picture becomes a bit murkier. You can use any of the .Net languages (C++, VB.Net, C#) or you can use standard bearers such as Delphi , VB6, or Borland C++ Builder. These are older, more mature environments, but still pack quite a bang for the buck.

Language History

Giving a history of the various computer languages used in the last 50-years would make for a very lengthy book. In this section, however, I will give a brief history of the main languages. As the old cliché goes, knowing where you came from helps you to know where you are going.

History of the C-Language Family

Of the famous names in the computer industry, the two people who should really go down in history are Dennis Ritchie and Brian Keringhan of AT&T Bell Laboratories, who in the 1970s created the C Programming Language. Virtually everything that we take for granted today has its roots in their pioneering work. I’m not just talking about the PC. All current languages and professions use work that these two pioneered.

I should also mention Bjarne Stroustrop, who extended the language and created C++ and the object oriented programming that all modern computing now uses regardless of language.

Most programmers starting off today will learn the .Net architecture in school, like students of previous years learnt Microsoft MFC architecture with C++. It’s an unfortunate byproduct of our current scholastic environment that learning the history and origins of the languages gets at best a minor footnote.

Although today C#/C++ are the predominate languages, it is interesting to note that back in years gone by, C had to compete against other languages. C++ started off as just C, which was a higher language to the assembler. C allowed very tight written code, which the author could optimize and correlate directly to machine code. It was quite common in earlier years to look at the assembly listing and compare the assembly generated to what you would have created manually. I know that I did that.

In the early 80s schools taught COBOL, FORTRAN, and Pascal. Pascal was my first language. C wasn’t even a course that you could take. Come to think of it, PC assembly wasn’t either. Studying mainframes and software for mainframes was the ticket well into the 80s.

When Microsoft introduced Windows v3.1, two languages vied for developer’s hearts, Pascal and C. Both interfaced directly with the Windows operating system by calling APIs exported from GDI, Kernel, or User system DLLs. These DLLs were given the name Win16 SDK, which later became Win32 SDK and Win64 SDK.

I used both languages but liked C better, as I liked being close to the operating system and I disliked making code overtly English like. C was also a bit more flexible. I still remember programming books of that era showing sample code in Pascal and C. That seemed to have been a requirement in those days. One advantage was to see the same code done in slightly different ways, which helped reinforce the idea.

As the years went by, C augmented and became C++. C++ gained classes and objects. Microsoft abstracted the SDK by creating their own classes, called the Microsoft Foundation Classes. Microsoft has steadily weaned developers away from accessing low level APIs and resources. The notable exception is the DirectX API for game developers.

MFC introduced the concept of code bloat and multi-layers underneath your code. Unless you stayed with the SDK development, gone were the days of assembly listing or using C. For all that are curious, I loathed MFC then and now. I later adopted C++ first taking it on as a better C than C. I still remember the first time that I heard that phrase.

Anybody who’s ever used VB or C# has used RAD. The idea behind RAD is that you create a Windows or Web form using a GUI environment and then add in properties, methods, and events to control what you see on the GUI. By contrast programming a GUI with C or C++ regardless of whether you use MFC is a major chore, but one well worth doing at least once. There is something to be said for knowing how Microsoft Windows thinks and operates. We’ve become so used to events, methods, and properties that the concept of cooperative vs. asynchronous message queues would probably draw blank faces on most developers. This debate heated up with IBM and Microsoft introduction of OS/2, but that is a different article.

Microsoft eventually replaced MFC with a newer and more powerful class library that filled in many of the holes, namely the .Net architecture. Microsoft introduced C# as a way of creating a safer C++, which does away with pointers. C# introduced the concept of RAD, so you finally have in a sense products coming full circle.

As mentioned earlier, C# is the next leap forward in the C language. Microsoft took many of the good features from VB, Java, and PHP and added them to C++ and called it C#. As I write this article, the latest Microsoft development environment is Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 (VS05), which incorporates the Microsoft .Net Framework v2.0 into all its supported languages.

When Microsoft decided to improve C with the introduction of VS05, I was saddened that a great feature of VB did not make it into C#, namely the with-statement. Also, VB6 still has a slightly easier method of creating events, although C# is not bad either. Another minor advantage of VB6 is that it can match up what’s on the right side of the period automatically with the left side, if you go back and view the context menu. I’m not sure why Microsoft doesn’t implement this minor convenience into C# and C++. Considering that this feature is part of the IDE, you would think that it would be platform independent.

History of BASIC

The “Basic” in “Visual Basic” is really BASIC, which is an acronym for “Beginners All purpose Symbolic Instructional Code”. Okay, they left off the “P” in Purpose, so the acronym is not quite accurate.

BASIC was created to teach students in a simple way how to program. The earliest versions were line based and interpretive, namely that the language compiled the line after you hit enter. There was no compiler in the modern sense of the word.

BASIC wouldn’t be even a footnote in history if not for Microsoft including BASICA for free in its MS-DOS and IBM-DOS operating systems. The “A” in BASICA was for advanced, as BASICA added a few more bells and whistles to BASIC.

Many aerospace companies loved BASICA because the code was “portable” and the language was free. C gained popularity much on the same reasoning, portability and cheap, although Microsoft languages are anything but cheap.

BASIC took a major leap, when Microsoft introduced a form of BASIC to run scripts for their Office products. In the early days each Microsoft Office product included a version of a BASIC based scripting language. BASIC as a language took a leap forward, when Microsoft introduced Quick BASIC (and Quick C) in order to compete with Turbo Pascal.

Microsoft took their hand at a RAD (think Delphi ) tool and introduced Visual Basic (VB). It immediately won converts. Using VB was definitely easier and faster than creating an application using C and the Win16/Win32 SDK. Microsoft in quick succession added features and capabilities until getting to Visual Basic v6.0.

By the time VB6 hit the market, Microsoft incorporated VBScript into their Office products dumping the earlier variations. The VB6 runtime files are commonly distributed by many vendors including Microsoft, which make for very small distributable code in a mature language.

Microsoft went to work on their next generation set of languages and decided to take RAD to the next level. The created the .Net Framework and created a new C-based language, C#, which could compete on many levels. Microsoft dumped the VB class library replacing it with the .Net Framework, hence the name VB.Net. Today C# and VB.Net are quite similar.

By replacing the VB class library with the .Net Framework, Microsoft effectively equated C# and VB. Now the difference is merely one of style. C# is still a bit more flexible, as it is based on C and not BASIC.

Microsoft Visual Basic 6 (VB6), the last version of VB before the introduction of the .Net architecture still has quite a following. I still get surprised by that. I use the platform and quite a few people in the community do too. Other companies have taken over VB6 by creating their own platforms based on Microsoft’s work.

History of PASCAL and RAD

The Pascal language has a very interesting history and its survivability to this day shows the genius of its inventor, Dr. Niklaus Wirth. Dr. Wirth created the Pascal language by using bits and pieces of the failed language ALGOL (ALGOL from ALGOrithmic Language).

ALGOL (see above) was a programming language intended for the scientific community that an international community helped develop in the 1960s in Zurich . The charter was to create a platform-independent language. To achieve this goal the language sacrificed many basic data types. The many deficiencies of ALGOL (see above) led the scientific community to wrap their hands around FORTRAN. When I was at UCLA in the early 80’s, UCLA was still teaching FORTRAN. Today, universities teach C++, but that is another story.

Dr. Wirth saw the deficiencies in ALGOL and knew that he could extend the language and create a better one, so in 1971 he released a structured language that he called Pascal after the 17 th Century French philosopher and mathematician, who built a working mechanical digital computer.

Pascal was innovative for its time in many ways. The compiler compiled down to an intermediate phase. That was not something done by those times. From this phase what we now know as a linker would create the machine specific executable. Because of this two stage compilation, Steve Jobs and company were able to port Pascal relatively easily to the Macintosh.

Dr. Wirth designed Pascal for lightening fast execution; strict data type checking; and object oriented design. Unlike C/C++, which uses symbols, Pascal uses words and reads like a natural language. Pascal is also very structured. You must declare all symbols ahead of time and you can’t mix and match them.

In the 1980s Microsoft wrote compilers for both Pascal and C/C++. How many of you remember Microsoft Pascal? At one point Microsoft decided to focus strictly on C/C++ and decided to sell off their Pascal language, leaving Borland as the main company to back Pascal and its following.

A small company created during the mid 1980s a program called Turbo Pascal, which took the industry by storm and catapulted Borland to be a major player in the development language realm. Turbo Pascal forced Microsoft to follow suit and resulted in Microsoft Quick Basic and Microsoft Quick C and Microsoft’s focus on both BASIC and C/C++.

For a while Turbo Pascal was the defacto language for programming on the PC. Borland through v7.0 of the language continued to extend and expand the language.

At one point, Microsoft released Visual Basic a one stop graphical development environment. Borland followed suit with Delphi , its version of a rapid application development environment. They naturally chose Pascal. I guess Borland calling their product “Borland Visual Pascal” would have been a bit too much, so we are left with only Delphi . Interestingly enough I think Delphi is the only product/language that doesn’t explicitly mention its underlying language.

With the release of Delphi and its Windows focus, Turbo Pascal and its focus on DOS soon got relegated to the history books. Throughout the years, Delphi added many of the features and extensions present in Microsoft Visual Basic or the Microsoft Visual Studio languages.

Delphi remains a relatively easy language to use and with its fast compilation, cross platform appeal, and competition to Microsoft remains a force in the industry.

Pascal had been waning in support over the years, so Borland took a different approach to creating applications. They introduced what they called Rapid Application Development (RAD). The concept was that you could create the GUI with a GUI and then tie-in code (Pascal), when necessary to make the objects work together. Borland called their new RAD based Pascal Delphi. The product still exists today and has many supporters. I know several people in ASP who swear by the platform.


Benefits of C/C++ (No Foundation Classes)

I went for an interview recently and to my big surprise the company had their developers designing their products using C++ and the Win32 SDK rolling in their own classes. I thought that I was the only developer in the last decade that swore by that. I had my own reasons, but was curious of theirs, so like any good reporter I asked.

Their primary reasons were download size and speed. They wanted their complete download file to be no larger than 3 to 4 Mbytes in size. Because they wrote game software that targets the masses, they did not want a behemoth. Considering that the download file included the installer and all necessary components to run on Windows 95 and later that is one hell of an optimization. I might add that their software also accessed server resources.

Interestingly enough, the use of VB6 produces relatively tight code too. The VB6 distributable package plus the application usually compresses down to a couple of megabytes. The problem comes in, when adding in components, especially data access components (i.e. ADO ).

Their other reason was speed. I’ve heard this argument before, and truth be told, I made the same argument in the past. The problem is that most people today run computers with processing power that dwarfs their predecessors from a decade ago. Still I guess if developing a computer based game, the speed argument wins out. VB6 is not exactly known for blisteringly fast graphics.

There was another reason that I did not hear from them, namely that of being closer to the operating system. I for one like control over what I am doing. I like tinkering at the low level and knowing exactly what each piece does. The problem with this approach is that coding takes way too much time.

Another big reason for rolling your own code is stability. I was surprised that the company didn’t furnish me this reason. They obviously haven’t been in the shareware space that long or have just been lucky. For years my father would tell me that he would purposely buy a car with manual windows and a manual transmission. Why? He said that the extra stuff was just more things that could fail. He also said that what happens if the power fails and you want to open a window. Well, the same argument holds for software. I’ve seen my software crash out in the field. A lot of the time the end culprit was a bug in somebody else’s component. I’ve even seen Microsoft’s code (API, Foundation Classes, etc.) fail. The bug may be theirs, but the customer complaint comes to me. Rolling your own code tends to be the safest way to go.

This last argument is a bit weak, especially if you pick your components properly and put them through a rigorous test. Looking at various factors, such as developer feedback, length in business, and version number also helps. Unless you code well, the odds of eliminating bugs might go up, not down. After all, a developer of a component specializes in their component.

Benefits of Visual Basic

I talked a lot about Visual Basic in the last section, but I’ll state what I think are its strengths here. Before getting started, let me restate that when I think of Visual Basic, I am referring to Microsoft Visual Basic v6.0 (VB6) and the couple of competitors that Microsoft has in this arena, not that Microsoft competes in it anymore. I refer to the newest version of VB as VB.Net, which ships with Microsoft Visual Studio 2005.

VB6 offers RAD (Rapid Application Development), a plethora of third party ActiveX components, small footprint, and stability on the “VB framework” on various platforms. VB6 also offers presence on various platforms, simplicity, and an unbeatable price.

Before going into details on what I just mentioned, let me talk about a common negative most often sited to me, when the subject of VB6 comes up, namely that of the “old look and feel”. VB6 does have an old tired look about it. I doubt that there is anyone who will argue that point. The question rather is whether you have to accept that old look. The answer is no. There are companies out there that sell components that skin VB6 applications. You can purchase more modern components, so rather than using a VB6 button, you can use one from a third party. Microsoft created their development environment in such a way that I suspect that almost everything can be replaced and/or updated.

To be fair C#, Delphi , and VB.Net offer just as nice a RAD environment than VB6. Working with VS05/C# at work I can get pretty spoiled, but then going home and working with VB6 is not that bad either.

VB6 still holds the edge with quantity and price, when it comes to third party components. I would venture to say that only in the last couple of months have venders really started to come out with .Net compliant versions of their component wares. The problem is that these components tend to be more expensive, considered a new product or an expensive upgrade, and also might suffer from the version 1.0 affliction, namely being new and therefore buggy.

By the time Microsoft Windows Vista and Microsoft Windows Vienna (follow-on product to the forthcoming Windows Vista Upgrade), Microsoft will have worked out the kinks with the .Net Framework, but for now installing this behemoth on user’s system is a real pain. I know this from personal experience. My first indoctrination came, when I found out the hard way that you cannot install a new version of the .Net Framework over a beta copy. Upgrading the .Net Framework can cause the older one to not work. The size of the .Net distributable is impressive and does not lend itself to distribution, unless you assume that everyone has an Internet connection using fiber optic cable and a 3.4 GHz based computer.

Although you may still want to distribute the VB6 runtime files, most computers in use today already have them installed. In time the .Net Framework v2.0 will be this way, but not now. VB6 based applications run identically on Microsoft Windows 95 all the way to Windows Vista. I haven’t heard of any test on Windows Vienna, but I assume it will work fine on that too.

C++ vs. C# vs. VB.Net

C# and VB.Net are Microsoft’s RAD offerings. Microsoft still offers C++. It’s a great way to learn the intricacies of COM. In order to appreciate C# and VB, developers should code for COM using C++. I got my first experience in this area over a year ago, when I had to code ADO.Net on C++. In many ways C# users are even more shielded from COM than VB users.

C++ offers a lower layer interface, pointers, and the ability convenience and familiarity of C++. Unless you abandon the .Net Framework and roll your own application, then I don’t see much point in sticking with C++. If you’re going to pay for .Net Framework, you might as well make use of it.

C++ and MFC are truly cumbersome for GUI development and torture for using COM. Accessing SQL databases using C++ is a nightmare, especially when compared to VB6. C# does such a good job of abstracting the underlying COM layer that anybody who went to VB so as to avoid C++ and its headaches may want to look at C#. I’d venture to say that ADO is simpler under C# than VB6, if that is even possible. I like the Data Adapter class. That eliminates a world of code. C# adds flexibility not present with VB6. I guess that is obvious, as C# is newer than VB6. BTW, when I’m talking of C# here I’m including VB.Net.

Microsoft .Net v2.0

Thanks to the new version of Microsoft Visual Studio, there are now only minor differences between Visual Basic and C (C#). Both languages are RAD based and fully utilize the v2.0 of the .Net Framework. The integration is so compelling and the feature set so rich that once you use the environment and its rich debugging facilities it is hard to go back to any previous version, even Visual Studio 2003. VS05 offers with the product enhancements that are not just window dressing but an entire Las Vegas style buffet.

Many component developers seem to be coding for the .Net Framework and VS2005, so the availability won’t be a problem, assuming that money to upgrade won’t be an issue. Upgrading VS is one thing, but upgrading all the components is another story.

Distribution of .Net Framework

VS05 adds ease of creating web, windows, and console applications with ease and all from one product in a Rapid Application Development Environment, which makes the product well suited for application development. After all its new, has the latest innovations in virtually everything, and has bugs from previous versions fixed. The product also has the virtue of support from the manufacturer. Unfortunately for shareware authors, we have to distribute and install the .Net Framework. Microsoft currently ships no operating system with the .Net Framework installed. Users that have the .Net framework installed have one of several different versions and not all of them can coexist with the newer ones. Microsoft promised that Microsoft Windows Vista will incorporate the .Net Framework (v2.0 or a later version I presume) as part of the operating system. When that operating saturates the market, then we can dispense with distributing the .Net framework and start using these new tools. Of course, you can separate out the .Net Framework and make that a separate install, but most people don’t want a complicated install. Users don’t like to read. They like complicated or convoluted installs even less.

One story sticks to mind. I released my first product, SI-Metric Kids, and had talked a local business into installing and testing the program. Yeah, for me! They downloaded the program and summarily ran into a problem. Some of their software stopped working. The culprit turned out that they had an older version of the .Net Framework installed than what I installed. The other application refused to work until I backed out my software. Fortunately for me I used InstallShield and no harm was done, except for my time and a lost customer. Also fortunate was that I was able to make a house call. I loathe to think what would have happened if I couldn’t go over and visually see the problem. This incident prompted me to rewrite the product and use VB6. I swore then that as a result that I would not even touch .Net Framework until Microsoft shipped the framework as part of the PC and that operating system gained penetration into the marketplace.

Class Stability

Another issue is that VB6 and its classes are stable regardless of whether you use Microsoft’s tool or one from another vendor. Compare that to the new and evolving .Net Framework, which Microsoft changed from v1.X to v2.0. Some parts require almost a total re-write. I found out about that the hard way. I ran into this problem head on, when I started perusing sample code developed for the previous version and couldn’t even find the replacement. I spent quite a bit of time relearning the classes. Working with some of the form controls dynamically was some of the roughest. If Microsoft changed .Net v2.0 so much from the previous version, you might take pause at what v3.0 will force developers to do. Shareware authors don’t have time to continuously redo development and upgrade their customers. It’s fine if you work for a large company and develop tools for internal use, but it’s not fine for external software distribution.

As a small business and one-person shop, I don’t have the luxury or time to spend with countless hours recoding and dealing with the .Net Framework. I have to worry about adding new features, doing the sales and marketing, maintaining the website, making deals, and providing customer support. That means that there still are only two viable products, Delphi and VB6. One of these days I’d like to play with Power Basic and the other big VB6 compiler firm.

Future Trends

The future of C++ and the Win32/64 SDK

The C/C++ language with direct access to the Windows SDK will continue well into the future. Not everybody wants a full layer foundation classes and not all applications will benefit from them, as my example of the game company earlier demonstrates. Even as Microsoft migrates the underlying implementation of the operating system to a class framework, Microsoft said that they will continue to produce a standard API library to access operating system capabilities.

The future of VB6

I’ve been surprised at the viability on VB6. I don’t think that Microsoft ever intended this particular version to last as long as it has, but then their abandonment of this special language has led to a small cottage industry. Developers who choose VB6 should know that Microsoft will support the VB6 language until March 2008. It remains to be seen if one of them will rise up and become the next Borland. My guess is that as the .Net Framework becomes standard and takes hold of the operating system and more and more developers start coding for it that we’ll see VB6 start to fade away. Then again, Delphi remains strong and healthy in spite of its foretold doom, so who knows?


Skill Requirements

Microsoft .Net requires a much higher skill level than does VB6 or Delphi . The learning curve is much steeper, but the payoff for corporate projects and more complicated projects will be higher. VB6 and Delphi are much simpler, more foolproof, and better known.

Return on Investment

This question is hard to judge. Much depends on how much you already have, whether you will develop for corporate needs or your own shareware, and how you will address the bandwidth requirement for the .Net Framework.


This topic is a hard one to answer, but each has its unique strengths. The VS05 has a much nicer debugging interface, but gets bogged down by complicated frameworks and extra overhead. The VB6 interface is much simpler and easier to understand.


I guess both platforms are becoming as extensible as control developers cater to both the .Net Framework and ActiveX controls. About a year ago, I would have said that VB6 had the advantage. One company, PerfectionBytes.com, which markets an email control, solved the problem by bundling their email client for a nominal increase ($40) over the single platform cost.

Web Development

Microsoft finally took the web seriously with the release of Microsoft Visual Studio 2003 and subsequently Visual Studio 2005 offering an environment for software developers to develop web based “applications” using a similar look and feel to that of developing a Windows based application.

Microsoft offers a GUI based RAD environment using their language of choice, C#, to create web based projects. Microsoft extended their component / control interface to web based developers, which is why you see so many third party controls. You will see the distinction going by “for Web Forms” or “for Win Forms”. An example would be Far Point Technologies (fpoint.com), which creates a spreadsheet control for both web and windows forms.

The obvious benefits for using Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 for web development is an increased control over web at the software level. You can easily tie into a SQL Server backend and do a host of things not possible otherwise.

Of course, you are using a Microsoft solution for a Microsoft world, namely IE. Is Microsoft the only game in town? The simple answer is no. I got introduced to an open source solution called Mambo Server (MamboServer.com).

Mambo bases its solution using PHP. Mambo is great for content developers and websites, where you don’t want to create a Windows application but do want content management, user logins, and many other web related tasks.

I’m currently using Mambo to create my JobFish.com sister site and I can tell you that I really love the product. It’s quite innovative and the possibilities are endless. For those taking a look at Mambo, OS Commerce ( oscommerce.com) provides the ecommerce add-on solution to Mambo. The best part of the product is that it is free, flexible, and has quite a few people developing third party add-ons for the platform. I’m reminded of the distinction between Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer in the browser wars. One browser is not better than the other. Unlike IE, there are many add-ons for VS2005.

VB6 does offer a cruder web development facility, but one nevertheless. If you want to create a DHTML web application or DHTML web object that can tie into a database, then VB6 is perfect. I had a project come on my desk recently, which calls for creating a DHTML web object that can tie into a database. I looked at the various options available to me and to my great surprise and astonishment, VB6 fit the bill nicely. I already started down that road. I’ve always used VB6 for Windows development and reporting, but never for creating DHTML web objects that I can include in ordinary websites. VB6 offers simplicity and the knowledge that virtually every browser supports DHTML. That definitely for many simple fairing websites makes VB6 a viable alternative. Of course, you won’t get all the nice new bells and whistles, but hey, it gets the job done.

Delphi does not to my best knowledge provide any solution for creating a web application, so Delphi users will have to look elsewhere. I should also mention Adobe Go Live. Prior to Adobe purchasing Macromedia, Adobe also had a great showing in web development. There products are to this day popular on the Macintosh, which is one of the reasons Adobe purchased Macromedia and not Macromedia purchased Adobe. Think about that.

Lastly, there are other web solutions out there, Adobe DreamWeaver to name just one. I use DreamWeaver all the time. It’s a bit pricey but unsurpassed in what it does.

Mobile Development

Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 (VS05) is not Microsoft’s first foray into mobile device development. Microsoft has had a GUI based IDE going back to the year 2000 with its “Microsoft Embedded Visual C++” product. I used that product back then to create applications and drivers for products that embedded Microsoft WinCE v3.1. ActiveSync provided the magical connection back then as well as now.

The difference in VS05 is that Microsoft combined their old product into an all in one solution, not unlike Macrovision InstallShield Professional v11.5 for Windows, which combines previously separate products into one. With the new version you get all the new enhancements, an improved debugging environment, and the simplicity of using one IDE and one product. There is something to be said for that. Needless to say, Microsoft created an embedded platform to create solutions using its operating systems and browsers.


So that brings me back to which direction is best? VB6 and Delphi offer small distributable file sizes, compatibility to virtually every computer on the market, support for all versions of Windows from Windows 95 forward, cheaper entry for both the product and components, and shorter learning curve. Disadvantages are that the products are very quickly aging, not used in the industry, worse features and debugging is a bit harder.

Delphi offers a slightly different look and feel, excellent object inclusion, and a huge and dedicated user base. Several popular shareware programs used by ASP members were developed using Delphi . A note for Delphi users that adding in a security wrapper is a bit trickier on Delphi than on an application developed using a Microsoft language.

Having coded now with C#, I’d have a hard time talking myself into using VB6 for another major product, but then I do like that I have all the COM objects, libraries, and don’t have to worry about the .Net Framework, which will take several years before it hits everyone’s desktop. Also, .Net is still suffering 1.0 blues. It’s new and changing. Certain aspects, such as working with stored SQL 2005 procedures, are still rough and will add a few gray hairs.

On the other hand, if you want to improve your marketability as a programmer to other companies than coding for .Net makes sense as this platform is the current rage.

Let me address cost again. Obtaining Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Professional is relatively cheap. The cost comes into play with controls that you add in, such an email control (PBEmail), GUI controls, or various types of other controls. You need all new ActiveX controls targeted for the platform. If you want the Windows XP look and feel on other platforms besides Windows XP, you will need new controls for even those that Microsoft integrates. Most vendors have really priced .Net compliant controls for the not faint hearted.

What I would like is another competitor to compete with Microsoft by starting with VB6 and then updating the product to include new features. I could imagine that the product would be able to open up VB6 projects and build them cleanly, thereby providing an easy upgrade path. At that point the developer could then learn and implement the new toys. I won’t even comment on Borland with its every few years ditching of Delphi and its languages. Do you all remember Imprise?

Creating shareware requires spending as more time marketing and providing support than spending time coding. Coding becomes a small component, as many of you will realize. That is why choosing a development language is so very important. Life as a shareware author is hard enough.

In summary let me say the following:

Microsoft’s .Net architecture was designed to be very flexible with easy integration of various languages and platforms. VS05 wins hands down, when developing for mobile devices based on a Microsoft solution. Web development the answer becomes a bit murkier, as much depends on what you want to do and the direction that you want to go in and what you want your website to do.

Just shy of two years ago I made a conscious decision to abandon the .Net Framework and go with VB6. I probably should have looked at Delphi more, but I didn’t. I was curious about VB6 and wanted to really give that a spin. Besides, I was thinking of Pascal as old and tired, which was a bit harsh. In those days components were scarce and the Framework for the most part was in beta. The decision by a developer today or any new product that I create is not that simple. Windows Vista will go a long way to standardizing on a .Net Framework version. Components are getting common and stable. PerfectionBytes.com developer Pablo Barvo told me a couple weeks ago that his new version of his email component is now .Net compliant even in the ActiveX version. I upgraded JobFish to his new version and can see that he is right. There’s at least one area, where I won’t have upgrade hassles, when and if I finally port JobFish to .Net.

My recommendation to you is to make a list of what you want. Create two columns and write down the pros and cons and then decide. Do your due diligence.

Let me know your thoughts and which you think is best. In the end, there may be no one right answer, which funnily enough is what I first told my friend.


I’d like to acknowledge my good friend and fellow ASP member Friedrich Steinkuhl for his help in getting this article published.

Sarah M. Weinberger

Sarah M. Weinberger is a Board Member of the Association of Shareware Professionals and the CEO at Butterflyvista Corporation and is the creator of Jobfish, the professional tool for the serious job seeker. She spends her day performing software development and marketing related tasks. You can reach her at the contact form on the site.


Published originally in March 2006 in the Association of Shareware Professionals publication.


Sarah M. Weinberger is the CEO at Butterflyvista Corporation and is the creator of Jobfish, the professional tool for the serious job seeker. She spends her day performing software development and marketing related tasks. She is also politically active and is the founder of Progressives Leading.

Search Engine Optimization, Part II

This past month I was examining the logs of sites that link to ButterflyVista=s site. A few months ago, I took advantage of a service that Promaxum.com offers to upload JobFish to what they consider the top 500 download sites. In reality that number was more like 200, as the other sites didn=t apply to my category. I halfway expected to see those sites appear in my search engine spider report that indicates sites that link to me. The reason that you want spiders to show a high number of links to your site is that that is part of what determines your page ranking. What I saw unfortunately was the opposite. Only a few download sites appeared on my link report. The links that I did see were my explicit link swaps with other companies. To be fair, typing in JobFish in Google or Overture does yield quite a few download sites, which is good, but not as good as it can be.

I investigated the problem and found that not all download sites are optimized for search engine spiders. Furthermore, spiders usually can=t see the page that talks about your product. The reason is that some sites don=t have straight forward links back to you, your product page is buried too deep, or it can be for a number of other reasons.

If download sites don=t directly affect the bottom line or help in creating a higher page ranking, then why bother with submitting to various download sites? The answer is because it helps create buzz for your product. People don=t want to buy software or products from an unknown quantity. That is just human nature. The more times and places that people see your product, even in passing, the more likely they are to remember you when they need your product or service. WinZip Computing definitely learnt this lesson well. Another thing to consider is that download sites help seed search engines and create possible affiliate relationships. I wound up with an affiliate relationship this way.

As you can see the whole subject of search engine optimization revolves around page rank and keyword positioning. Before delving into these two hugely important subjects, let us review what page ranking is.

Page rank is a measure of how popular a particular page on your website is. The most popular page rank statistic is by far from Google. You might have heard of their PageRank. You can see what your page rank is by downloading their toolbar and then enabling the PageRank calculation. I find it quite informative.

A high page rank is not a direct measure of how many people visit your site, but rather a collection of other factors. A page rank is more of a calculation of how many web pages on the Internet link to you and with what quality. Google interprets a link from web page A to web page B, as a Avote@ by page A for page B. Google, like other search engines, uses the link structure of the web.

Another important factor is the quality of the link. A link to your site from a web page outside of your domain that has a higher page rank than you counts more than a link to your site from a page outside of your domain that has a lower page rank. That only makes sense, as real life works that way too. The other aspect of quality that matters is whether search engines consider the site that links to you a legitimate (not spam) site.

Website statistics show that 85 to 90 percent of all website traffic comes from search engines. Using a service to submit your website to various search engines and directories only guarantees you that they will look at your site. That does not mean that people will see your site. Statistics show that people only look at the first three pages of a search. That means that if your term is not there among the top 30 for that keyword, then you are out of luck. Furthermore, if people haven=t heard of you or get the wrong idea from your keyword description, then they won=t click. Another factor is where they land. Landing on the wrong page or a page that doesn=t specifically target the search term that somebody typed in is possibly even worse than not clicking on your keyword in the first place. The reason for that is that they will then formulate an opinion of you and won=t come back to you in the future, when they see you again in response to some other keyword or advertising method. They will have already formed a negative opinion and turn elsewhere.

Take my product JobFish for an example. Let=s say that somebody typed in Arecruiter@ into a Google search box. Let=s say that they saw a link to my site and that that link went to the JobFish home page or to the main index page. People will spend upwards of 15 20 seconds after they land on the page. If they don=t get instant gratification, then they=ll split, almost never to come back. Your visitors must see the relevance to their search term and to the meaning that they had in mind or they=ll leave. People won=t sit and investigate. In my case, the main index page barely talks about staffing services and reading the JobFish product page doesn=t give the visitor a nice warm fuzzy feeling that JobFish will help them locate a staffing service. They=ll see ActiveWireless.com and a host of other stuff, just not anything really staffing service related. I don=t think that I=ll ever forget the time that I searched on Google for my keywords. One of them bypassed the landing page that I targeted for that word and rather went to my error page. I spent quite some time trying to figure why Google did that. In order for the visitor to have successfully stayed on my site in response to typing in recruiter as the keyword, he or she should have gone to my dedicated recruiter landing page. That whole page talks only about staffing services.

When you move visitors from one location on your site to another, text links work better than graphic links. I can=t tell you how surprising that fact was to me. I=ve had several big companies tell me that, and I can see the wisdom in what they told me. That means to you that you shouldn=t overdo your Macromedia Flash and graphics. They can turn people off. Too much text is also not good. A good website takes a lot of work and effort.

Before continuing, I should clarify to you the distinction between a search engine and a directory. Search engines use specially-designed algorithms that send spiders, or ants from my perspective, out to your site, where they crawl around, gather information, and report back what they learnt. If that doesn=t perfectly describe an ant, I don=t know what does. Spiders don=t crawl around gathering information. That is the job of ants!

A directory uses information that you specifically provide to build their indexes. Search engines look at each page on its own value rather than on your website as a whole. You might have noticed when browsing web pages on a site, assuming that you have your Google Toolbar enabled, is that some pages can have very high page rankings, while others almost zero. That shows that Google is an engine and also shows where search engine optimization comes into play. I was surprised to learn that Yahoo is not an engine, but rather a directory. I was surprised to learn the other day that Yahoo owns Overture.

Let me give you a series of steps that you should follow during the entire course of your web development. You=ll be doing as much writing for yourself, then for others. The upshot is that you=ll have a winning site. First of all, you should write down the goal of what your website is and what you want to accomplish. You should write down your target audience. Don=t just say that you want to make sales. Be serious. You=ll be using this list later, so take some time here.

Next, create a spreadsheet indicating what your current page ranking is along with today=s date. You=ll want to track the changes as you make progress. Create an initial list of keywords, if you haven=t already. You should determine which pages on your site will be landing pages and which pages are for visitors who have already landed on your site. Please de-emphasize your error page. You don=t want a user landing there from a search engine. Submit your site to the various search engines initially after every change and then later on monthly. Don=t be bashful. Make the most out of the $100 bucks you paid to a service like SubmitFire.com. Monitor and track your changes, correcting problem areas. You want to keep keywords results in click-though-rate (CTR) averages of 0.7 or higher. CTR is the total number of clicks per impressions showed.

Remember that higher doesn=t mean better. A keyword with a CTR value of 1.5 that results in 50 clicks per month is better than a keyword that has a CTR value of 15, but only generates one click per month. Don=t forget the object of the game is to attract visitors. Using Overture=s pay per click (PPC) service is very useful for this purpose, because you can pay for positioning and get immediate feedback without having to worry about the actual CTR for a keyword. My main problem with Overture.com is that I have to fight with them, sometimes bare fisted (or so it seems), to get them to add a keyword that I want.

I strongly recommend that you record your Overture keyword statistics monthly. I use the form that aggregates the information for each keyword on a monthly basis. Also, create a spreadsheet to track your website log keyword statistics. The Search Engine Power Pack by NetMechanic.com can help you track your primary keywords on a weekly basis for the top search engines and tell you what position they are in. They track the top 40 or so entries for each keyword in their report, unfortunately.

Keyword positioning will have a lot to say about page ranking. Many search engine crawlers give a plus when your keyword is at the beginning, but not necessarily as the very first word in your title. Be careful to not repeat your keywords more than once in any tag or suffer the consequences. Repeating keywords too often has a term, called Akeyword stuffing.@ Many search engines allow you to get by with mentioning a keyword twice in the description, but I=d stick to one.

Don=t target more than a few keywords on any landing page. Just as too many cooks can spoil a dish, so can too many keywords. Make sure to mention your keywords throughout the body text of your webpage. Feel free to experiment here and gauge your success by watching your ranking.

Overture and many other search engines place an importance on keyword weight, the number of times your keyword or keyword phrase appear in your body text compared to the total number of words, but again, be careful to avoid appearing as you=ve “stuffed” your page with your keyword, or you=ll take a hit. Heavier keyword rates are not always better, just as I indicated last month that the PPC keyword with the highest traffic is usually not the best. I can=t emphasize enough that you should keep your eyes on the prize.

Many search engines use relevancy to determine position. Since keywords can have multiple meanings, you want search engines to think that the meaning of your keywords is the meaning that you have in mind and not somebody else=s definition. That is where affiliates, download sites, and partnerships come into play.

A word of advice to you is that search engines can=t see graphics, but they can see the ALT tag associated with images. When working with your webpage source, make sure you use the headline (h1, h2, h3, etc.), title, description, keyword, comment, ALT, and long ALT tags. You=ll be glad that you did.

Let me give you some tips on software that will come in handy for your software promotion. GroupMail by Infacta (www.infacta.com) addresses a subject that I talked about in my last issue, namely an effective tool to help you with sending out targeted newsletters. I have the privilege of testing their current version and their upcoming v5.0 release and it addresses most of the areas that I talked about, such as open rate, click through rate, and other stuff like that.

The next big Internet related thing appears to be the blog. I won=t go into the details of blogging, as that would be another article. Suffice it to say is that a blog is a webpage that lists news articles. Many blogs allow users to add their own comments on a posted article. Think of a special type of forum. You should definitely consider adding in a news feed for your site. To that end, Sharon Housley of NotePage, Inc. created FeedForAll (www.FeedForAll.com), which you should find useful for doing exactly that. Anybody who ever created an XML file manually will appreciate Notepage=s software package. I simply type my news entries into her cute multi skin program, click on an upload file, and watch my website automatically update. You=ll need a free service that Sharon also provides on another website and in no time, you=ll have your website ready for the 21st century.

I=ve talked with several of you this past month and what I would like to tell you is that if you want to become self employed selling your shareware creations, then don=t be afraid to ask other ASP members for help and don=t ever get discouraged. Selling software doesn=t happen overnight for the majority of us. Stay with it and act smart!


Published originally in November 2004 in the Association of Shareware Professionals publication.


Sarah M. Weinberger is the CEO at Butterflyvista Corporation and is the creator of Jobfish, the professional tool for the serious job seeker. She spends her day performing software development and marketing related tasks. She is also politically active and is the founder of Progressives Leading.

Software, It Takes a Village

You are a small software related company trying to make a go if it. You feel that you might be in over your head. You don’t know how to start or if your business is all that it should be. For 18-years now the Association of Shareware Professionals (ASP) has provided independent software developers, marketing services, enthusiasts, e-commerce services, and software download sites with all the tools and resources necessary to succeed.

Before going any further, let me give you a personal story. During the early ’90s I tried to make a go of it selling software. At the time I didn’t know of ASP, so I went about things on my own. I didn’t know anybody in the industry and I found the axiom, “If you built it, they will come,” to not apply to the independent software business. After trying for a few years, I had to give up and fold the business. I had to give up on my dream. That was a sad day and a lot of wasted years. In late 2002, I found out about ASP and the opportunity came up to start another software company. This time with the help of ASP, things are taking a much different course. Thanks to the many friends that I’ve made through ASP, I realize that I’m not alone. I have a village that is standing beside me and offering support or simply a kind word, when needed. No one ever put me down or told me that I couldn’t do it. In fact, I heard the opposite time and time again. Joining ASP and getting involved with the software community is one of the best things that I’ve ever done for myself. It’s even helped me gain credible references that can vouch for my work and other aspects that hiring managers want to know.

Unlike other organizations, ASP was founded with the principal of assisting small businesses succeed and become success stories. To that end ASP’s membership is more like a community or village than an organization, where each member contributes in their own way to the greater good, be it with development technical support, marketing assistance, legal advice, selling, or a host of other subjects. An important aspect of ASP is for the promotion of try-before-you-buy software as a valid form of software distribution in our global community. We also promote educating the stability, reliability, and security of shareware (try-before-you-buy software) to consumers and the creation of trusting relationships with customers.

Another one of our focuses is to contribute to our industry. This contribution comes in several ways. This industry communication comes from ASP members sharing what they’ve learned with their non-ASP member colleagues as well as our own press and educational programs that make information available to others in our industry.

ASP’s membership due of $100 per year pays for itself in no time with its wide range of membership benefits.

* Private Newsgroups – ASP has several private newsgroups each with its own focus. If you want people to review your website, or you want to discuss marketing strategies, then you need go no further than the marketing newsgroup, where you can talk with members from all around the world. Do you have a technical question? Visit our technical newsgroup. There are other groups, each specializing in a specific area.

* PAD Specification and Tool – ASP pioneered the PAD (Portable Application Description) Specification, which is a file that fully describes one or more software products. It helps authors provide product descriptions and specifications to online sources in a standard way, using a standard data format that will allow webmasters and program librarians to automate program listings.

* Free and Discounted Software – ASP members can get free and discounted software offers available only to ASP members.

* ASPects Magazine – Read our monthly printed newsletter, which contains a host of articles on various subjects, official communication from the Board of Directors, download site lists, discounts, editorials, and much more. Each year members receive a CD containing past issues.

* Book Reviews – Read reviews on business books posted by other members that cover every area of the software sphere from marketing and website design to advertising and development.

* Networking – Network with other members to create friendships, partnerships, and strategic alliances. Don’t stares from friends and family, who don’t know or understand what you’re trying to do. Tap into a worldwide community, where everyone understands you.

* Staying Current – The software industry is unlike any other industry in that our industry changes at a breathtaking pace. ASP changes wit the times and we strive to understand the current and new trends and disseminate this information out to our members.

* Future Projects – Even as I write this article, there are different committees within ASP that are working hard to bring new value to its members and the community. Like any of you, who have dealt with software, change is a constant companion. ASP today is different than ASP last year, and is different than ASP next year. Being a board member, I’m privy to watching these new programs unfold and being part of it.

* Moral Support – I couldn’t close off this list without mentioning one of the most important benefits of joining ASP, namely that of getting psychological and moral support. Being able to talk to other people about your feelings and frustrations and get helpful suggestions and advice is for me one of the bigger benefits. Since joining ASP and getting involved, I never feel that I’m alone.

Learn about Internet promotional opportunities that work, and which ones to avoid. Learn how members overcame bumps and unexpected results, when creating your promotional campaigns. Don’t reinvent the wheel. If you are serious about your business and you want to sell your software as an independent developer. The ASP provides you all the tools and information you need to get started, grow, and sustain your business.

Having been on my own and having worked in industry, I want to make sure that shareware development is a profession that one can be proud; that one can join. ASP is filled with members, like me, who volunteer their time, energy, and resources to making sure that the dream of being your own boss stops being a dream and becomes reality.

Raising a fledging software business takes a village. Don’t go it alone. Use the expertise of people that have been there before you. Sign up today!

Visit http://www.aspshareware.org/join/join.asp or fill out the sign up form included and give it to an ASP representative today! Hint: Look for the round sticker with the ASP logo on our name badges at SIC, Shareware Industry Conference.


Published originally in July 2005 in the Association of Shareware Professionals publication.


Sarah M. Weinberger is the CEO at Butterflyvista Corporation and is the creator of Jobfish, the professional tool for the serious job seeker. She spends her day performing software development and marketing related tasks. She is also politically active and is the founder of Progressives Leading.

Shareware And Search Engine Optimization

Many of you, like me, are software developers. No matter how many marketing services offer to take over the marketing from you and once you finish coding, in the end you are the one that must push your software forward and do the marketing. No doubt you have read many articles on how to market your software. With this article, my hope is to give you an understanding of how to market your software from a software developer’s point of view.

Creating the software product was the first challenge. Getting real beta testers and sales was the second. My efforts to get people to test JobFish by offering them free copies were an abject failure. I had many people who did nothing at all. I learnt that my best beta testers are my customers; those who pay cold hard cash. I do not think that I will ever forget the one customer who sent me a relatively angry email from abroad saying that my product had a myriad of problems. I answered him politely and apologized for the problems. Trough subsequent emails and revisions, he became a happy paying customer and a friend. I realized that if somebody takes the time to complain, they actually really do like the product. This person’s comments were well taken, so I implemented them. I figured that if he was upset, then there are many other people that would also be upset by the same thing. The trick is to know which suggestions to implement and which to ignore.

I remember my first efforts trying to sell JobFish. I uploaded my first product (not JobFish) to download.com and several other download sites and kind of expected cash to start flowing in. It did not. That led me to discussions on ASP’s marketing newsgroup and several other places. Everybody told me the same thing. Download sites account the smallest portion of sales with conversion rates of 2 to 5 percent. Search engine traffic account for the next major share, and affiliate sales for the rest. I was told that all the big shareware companies have strong affiliate sales. My thought was what is an affiliate? Even after I had people explain it to me, I still was asking myself the same question. The film Sleepless in Seattle comes to mind here. Basically, an affiliate is a reseller, somebody that resells your software and receives a commission.

Of the limited sales that I had, most came from search engines. That at least was true. My download site conversion rate was 0.01%. I guess that explains the lack of sales there. I then moved on to try emails, for which even the air molecules were against me. I did try one email campaign and that did not do to well. What I did not know at the time was that email campaigns are complicated. You have to track the open rate, test the subject line, and do a whole host of other things. You can not just track the number of people clicking on the link, downloading the product, and then making the purchase. Email campaigns can work, but you should be prepared. I would not go into this topic now, as I want to focus on search engine optimization.

As people kept avoiding JobFish and my other two products like the bubonic plague, I started to treat my sales problem like I would any other engineering problem. After all, I am an engineer accustomed to solving problems. The more that I treated sales and marketing like an engineering problem, the more that I got interested in the subject and realized that the two are not that much different.

Before I continue, let me say that the first thing you have to do is to be stubborn. They will be people telling you to quit. If you believe that you software is great and that it can work, then it can. Listen to your inner voice, and do not avoid tackling the marketing. It is fun, if you really think of it. It is all mathematics.

If somebody would have told me how difficult it would be to write a website, I would not have believed them. I clearly remember my first website that I wrote using Microsoft FrontPage. The thought of keywords, alternate domain names, Meta Tags, titles, alt tags, frames, Macromedia Flash, and all the other marketing related stuff did not even cross my mind.

When a search engine looks at your site, they use a piece of software called a spider. Personally, I think the analogy of an ant is more appropriate, but the principle is still the same. The spider will crawl all over your website, page by page, capturing the text, keywords, and other information in the process. Needless to say that if the search engine spider cannot find your page, it would not catalogue your page. Spiders are as important as real visitors. Based on the combination of your page title, Meta Tags, Meta Descriptions, body text, alt tags, and other web page related items (i.e. headers) search engines using a proprietary algorithm create what the industry calls, keyword weights, for each of the pages they catalogue. Spiders, unlike their arachnid brethren, are quite multi-dimensional, able to decipher whether or not you are really using a keyword or just trying to fool the search engine.

Therefore your first task is to choose keywords that are appropriate for you. That does not mean which keywords have generally the highest number of clicks in a month, but rather which keywords have the highest number of clicks and will likely interest search engine customers. Do not forget that they will only see a few sentences.

Search engines do not magically know about your website. You have to submit your site to each of them, preferably on a regular basis. Using a service like Promaxum.com comes in handy here. I would recommend doing one on your own, then farming out the work. Before that can happen, your website must be search engine friendly. Search engines do not like frames, Macromedia Flash, inline frames, and many other cutie things. When you create your website, think like an ant. Spiders cannot navigate pull down menus. A high page ranking (PR) does not just happen. It comes from hard work. To get around many of the limitations imposed by spiders, Macromedia Dreamweaver offers library items. They have got to be the web programmer’s best friend.

The most important thing that you will do is to choose the right keywords. Use a service like WordTracker.com as a start, but not as the bible. You will find out that coming up with the proper keywords can be a bit time consuming task, but it is not as bad as you might think. Pay per Click services, such as those on Overture.com, offer you instant keyword feedback. I would hold off on Google AdWords until you are somewhat seasoned. Google has a minimum click through rate and will charge you a fee, when you drop below that level for 3-consecutive times. I would use Overture.com first and then take your winning keywords that you have gleamed from Overture.com to Google. I cannot emphasize enough that the words that you think will interest people may not be what will really interest people in the end.

Once you come up with a keyword set, use these keywords in your title, page description, Meta Keywords, Meta Description, and regular body text. Most search engines look at comments too. That is a little trick of the trade. Determine which pages you want as a landing page and which you do not. For those pages that you do not want a search engine to see as a landing page, make sure to de-optimize those pages. I once got shocked, when typing in a keyword and seeing that Google picked my download page for a term rather than the product home page or any of the other terms. Having a user see the wrong page first is just as bad as having the user not come to the site at all.

I will leave you with a couple of tips. Do not forget to create an error page. If the user goes to an invalid page for whatever reason, control what they see. My second tip for you guys is if you do a promotional mailing, you do not have to create a custom landing page to track those clicks. It is enough to create a dummy page, say Campaign_1.htm, which merely redirects to your home page or anywhere else. That way you do not have to spend enormous amounts of time creating a custom page specifically for one mailing, but you can still get the same result. Think smart!


Published originally in October 2004 in the Association of Shareware Professionals publication.


Sarah M. Weinberger is the CEO at Butterflyvista Corporation and is the creator of Jobfish, the professional tool for the serious job seeker. She spends her day performing software development and marketing related tasks. She is also politically active and is the founder of Progressives Leading.

Trump’s proposal to radically increase spending on the military

Allen brings up an interesting points and figures regarding military spending. Thank you for showing that we spend $400 billion more than Russia and China.

This Huffington Post article talks about our record national defense spending, something in contradiction to what Trump suggest, and this spending is in Obama’s second term. What Republicans say does not pass anything, just their followers are ignorant and love to hurt themselves.

What Allen does not talk about, nor Democrats or Republicans is that the biggest danger to America is America. Period. The danger to us is not Russia or China or North Korea or Cuba or any other low life scum country.

Russia wins every time a dam of ours collapses. Russia wins every year that our electrical grid is worse than a third world country. Russia wins every single year that our national infrastructure is not only in a state of utter disrepair but many decades old. Russia wins every year that we have citizens that are sick when U.S. citizens and those that live here do not have guaranteed health care as a right, something that all other countries have.

Russia wins when 52% of the country hate intellectuals and believe in lies and propaganda. Russia wins when the other major party (Republicans) put power and chaos about everything else. Russia wins when 52% of the country want to see no America and just have a lose Confederate States of America. Russia wins when 52% of the population wants to put African Americans back as slaves or at a minimum have separate but equal. Russia wins with the talk of isolationism and “Make America Great Again” and “America First” rhetoric.

In order to finally make the United States of America the country that it can be, we have to get beyond the Civil War, which supposedly ended in 1865 and beyond the second world war, which supposedly ended in 1945.

I am not saying the following because I am a Democrat, but pretty much, and Allen said the same thing, that Republicans are the head of all major push-downs to our society, while Democrats are the ones that push for real positive change. 52% of the country needs to grow up and mature, not to mention get an education.

The flame is lit with the Jeff Sessions perjury

Before talking about Jeff Sessions and his perjury, I want to throw a thought out to the masses:

Republicans are very 1-dimensional in one sense and that is their Achilles Heal. Republicans vote as one, think as one, behave as one. As such, all can go down as one if the Democrats do things properly.
 To say that the recuse of Jeff Sessions and the calling of his perjury a lit match does not apply to a Republican. Trump and Republicans operate by a separate set of rules. It is true that if Hillary won and had such events happen in her administration, Republicans and Democrats would have her neck in a guillotine.

How many political events have seen, where Republicans operate by a separate set of rules. Republicans caused the financial collapse of 2008 by their destroying the Glass Steagall Act and allowing the derivatives of the kind that brought the banking industry down.

The housing bubble and the huge loss of jobs, which resulted in a direct $10 trillion dollar increase in the national deficit and Republicans spinning in record time the blame to Barack Obama’s. The result? Republicans won the elections of 2010 and gerrymandered district lines to ensure that they will win. That was a crime and nobody cared.

Barack Obama brought the economy back to life and Democrats got the blame that he was not the miracle worker in his first 2-years against a minority Republican obstruction and so he should lose. Republicans can do no wrong.

Now, Republicans support Republicans and their party. The only way that Republicans, and they all act as one, would turn on their own would be if their head was in the guillotine and they saw no other way out, but even that is not the current state of the Republican party.

They would go down with the ship, lose power, be the party of no, spin away, and their followers and people in a year or two would believe them. We have been here before, several times before and people do not know.

There is also the fact that for many people anyone in entertainment, except a few who preach negativity, are old and out of touch. Hollywood has an age limit. Have all of you forgotten Logan’s Run?

We shall see, but with every week bringing new scandals and his followers not believing the “liberal media” and Trump being an expert in manipulating the media it is hard to see the Russian ties, and obviously, Trump has ties to Russia and/or the Russians have something on him, where none of what is happening matters. Republicans control all levers of power.

What can happen is for people to fight back in 2018 and resoundly defeat Trump, though we shall see how well that goes. We already lost several local special elections. Yes, we won, but lost several others.

Think of the Jeff Sessions reveal like this. If Russian influence mattered to voters would Trump and Republicans have so resoundly won? The Russian connection to Trump was in the news before the November 2016 election.

What was not referenced in Allen Clifton’s article or Dan Rather’s Facebook comment is that a recent poll, sorry I do not remember the URL, but can be searched, showed that Trump’s followers look favorably towards Russia and think negatively of the United States, basically they, like good sheep, buy Trump’s allegations hook, line, and sinker.

In order for the Republicans to be in any real long term danger, 52% of the population must get beyond the Democrats are Always wrong mentality and that if the Republicans do wrong, that their wrongs are forgiven or forgotten after a year or two.