Reason for the silence

July 12th, 2012 5 comments

Wowzers! It’s been 10 months since I created a post on my blog! There is a good reason for that, I promise. I’m obviously not a prolific blogger like Ray Camden or some of the other folks that seem to be able to churn out blog posts as often as some of us sneeze, but I like to post about things that interest me from time to time.

Lately however, there just hasn’t been enough hours in the day–and here’s why. My father-in-law is an optometrist with a small practice in the town where my wife and I are from. Several years ago, he looked at me and said something along the lines of “all the practice management software packages that exist today are terrible–why don’t you build something better?”. We experimented with the idea of an internet-based application, but the technology just wasn’t ready for that kind of application at that time. More importantly, people’s attitudes on having their core business data hosted anywhere but on a computer in their office weren’t ready for what we were thinking. So, we shelved the idea.

Then, about 2 years ago some the changes in healthcare regulations happened that made us pull the idea out of mothballs and give it another look. During the intervening years, things like Flickr, GMail, Hotmail, Dropbox and others had totally changed people’s idea of where they would store their data. Mobile internet access (and people’s demand for it) was starting to take off thanks to the continued adoption of smart phones. Additionally, the tools for building compelling web applications had matured greatly and new ones had been born. With all that in mind, we decided to give this idea a go and a new company and product was born.

Today, RediPractice is the result of that idea. RediPractice is a web-based practice management system for tracking patients, appointments, insurance and billing for small optometric practices. Our core goal is to give the doctors and staff a system that is intuitive and easy to use. Our belief is that your practice management software should not cause more headaches than it solves so we have worked hard to remove processes that we’ve seen in other packages that make getting work done more difficult.

We launched live with our first customer on 1 Jan 2012 and have been in a sort of “private beta” phase since then with a small number of customers. Over the last six plus months, we’ve worked very closely with our customers’ staff members to iron out any wrinkles, revamp things that don’t make sense and add new features that our customers have told us they need to run their day-to-day practice activities.

However, as anyone that has started a new business can attest, you don’t normally get your incorporation papers in the mail and suddenly find a plethora of money in your mailbox. Starting a new business is hard work–and there are dozens of areas involved that I know nothing about. So, while we’re building this new company and product, I’m still doing consulting work for clients during the day to keep the lights on, so I can work on RediPractice nights and weekends. I have to say it’s already been an incredible journey–from doing a deep dive into medical practice processes, regulations and such to meeting with doctors and staff who are potential clients and pitching my product to them.

So, whether you really cared or not, you now know why my blog posts have been so few and far between.

Categories: Business, ColdFusion, SaaS Tags:

Can you be too object-oriented for your client’s good?

September 1st, 2011 No comments

Unless you’ve been coding under a rock since ColdFusion 4.5, you’ve likely noticed the massive momentum behind object-oriented design and development in the ColdFusion sphere over the last 2 to 3 years. I love the idea of designing apps using object-oriented techniques–so much so that I’m presenting a session titled “OOP: What is it and why do I care?” at NCDevCon next month. After a while of developing OO-style applications you can get really spoiled to that way of writing and organizing code.

As a consultant, I get the opportunity to work for a wide array of companies and an even wider array of projects–not all of which are designed and built using the latest and greatest OO principles. Sometimes you can fall into the trap of thinking how you’d do a certain thing in an object-oriented way when the application you’re working on is written in a (good or bad) procedural manner. As tempting as it might be to scrap the client’s procedural code and write a shiny new OO block of code, you have to step back and remember what the client is paying you to do and decide if that’s the best use of the client’s money.

Unless the client is specifically paying you to refactor an older application, sometimes it simply doesn’t make sense to change the way the client’s application works so drastically. Sometimes you just have to “forget” all the OO goodness that you’ve learned to love over the last couple of years and go back to the “old” way of doing things in order to best service your client. It may not be fun, exciting or cutting edge work, but there are still a great number of procedural applications out there that we might be called upon to work on.

Disclaimer: This post was written as a “note to self”, not as an indictment of anyone that I have worked with.

Categories: General Tags:

How I got started in ColdFusion

August 1st, 2011 No comments

After separating from active duty with the US Air Force in early 1998, I took a job working at a telecommunications company located in Brentwood, TN as a desktop and server support IT guy. About 6 months after I started, the company advertised an open position for their first full-time web developer. I applied and, owing to their policy of trying to “hire from within” first, I was chosen to fill the position.
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Categories: General Tags:

I turned 40 yesterday…Here’s to the 2nd half

July 8th, 2011 2 comments

For those of you that normally come here for technical information, this post is completely non-technical and I’ll understand if you decide to spend your valuable time somewhere else.

As the title of this post suggests, I made it through what some people refer to as the “black birthday” yesterday. According to some statistic I found online, white males in the USA have an average life expectancy of 77.1 years. Pessimists would say that means I’m slightly over half dead. Optimists would respond with something along the lines that I have nearly half of my life in front of me. I’m really in neither category as I prefer to focus on things that I can make an impact on today (or plan today for things that I’m going to have to deal with in the near future).
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Categories: General Tags:

Automatically encrypting and decrypting data with ColdFusion ORM and annotations

April 4th, 2011 8 comments

I’m writing an application that uses ColdFusion’s ORM features heavily. Various fields in my database deal with Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and need to be encrypted to meet regulatory requirements. I’ve been mulling over the best way to deal with keeping the data encrypted while in the database but have it be readily usable when loaded into an entity. None of the scenarios that came to mind felt right or could be implemented without an extensive amount of “work-around” code and I just wasn’t willing to go down those paths.

I put the question out to the folks that follow me on Twitter and got a couple of responses, one of which was from Mark Mandel who suggested using annotations. Now, I’ve heard the word annotation mentioned, but had never had the time/opportunity to research what they were or how they were used. That was a few weeks ago and in the meantime, I’d gotten busy focusing on other things and just got around to thinking about the encryption thing again a few days ago. What I found out astonished me.
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Categories: ColdFusion Tags: