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  • Perfect Sync is winding down

    It makes me sad to announce that Perfect Sync, Inc. will be winding down in the coming months. Sales have slowed to a trickle – a few per year – and it’s no longer worthwhile for me to pay for a Shopify store, so it will be closing next month. My web site (perfectsync.com) will be going dark when the domain expires next year, but I’ll still provide tech support via email and the SQL Tools subforum here.


    This seems like an appropriate time to finally tell my story. I think I have earned it.

    My friend Bob Zale was a top-notch programmer, but he was a terrible businessman.

    I met Bob in the TurboBASIC days, and I was a beta tester for every version of PB. My SQL Tools, Console Tools, and Graphics Tools products sold quite well on the PowerBASIC web site for more than 10 years, but behind the scenes Bob never paid me on time. He kept falling farther and farther behind, but the next version was going to put PowerBASIC, Inc. in the black and I was going to get “every penny”. It would have been counterproductive to suspend sales, so I let it continue.

    When PowerBASIC’s past-due balance reached $100,000 I finally put my foot down, and Bob promised to do better, but my one-year deadline passed and the total had risen to $125,000, and I really turned up the heat.

    Then Bob died. I’ll always wonder if financial stress contributed to his heart attack.

    PB continued to sell my products and the balance grew larger. I worked with Bob’s widow Vivian, trying to keep PowerBASIC going, in hope of eventually getting paid and because of my personal feelings about the PB community. I even paid the vBulletin fees to keep these forums open for two years.

    Vivian told me more than once that she couldn’t have done it without me, Gary Beene, and Tom Hanlin. For a while we called ourselves the Three Amigos, and were basically running PowerBASIC. Our goal for quite a while was to finish PB 7/11, and we put in a lot of hours.

    So I was surprised when Vivian told me in early 2017 that the Florida statute of limitations had run out on the debt, and that only PowerBASIC’s assets (the compilers) were being transferred to Drake Software. As you can imagine It was a huge blow.

    I want to be clear: I’m no longer angry at Vivian. Her husband left her with a terrible situation; she was a grandma with no experience running a software company, and she quite wisely followed her accountant’s advice. It would be silly to be mad at Bob for dying, and I have certainly never blamed Drake.

    In the end my only option was to sue my friend’s elderly widow, and I chose not to do that. Turns out that I, too, am a competent programmer but a poor businessman.

    It will probably surprise you to learn that I never got paid for any of the SQL Tools Version 3 licenses that PowerBASIC sold. More than a few Console and Graphics Tools, too. The customers weren’t to blame – they paid PowerBASIC for my products in good faith – so I have always supported all of them to the best of my ability, especially my biggest seller, SQL Tools.

    So here I am today, closing Perfect Sync and entering retirement with a lot less money than I should have. I’ll be honest... If any of you are feeling charitable, my feelings would not be hurt if you purchased “extra” SQL Tools licenses while the Shopify page is still open. Can’t hurt to ask, right? Or if you just want to shake your head and think me a fool, that’s okay too. By posting this, the story is over and I think I can finally come to peace with the whole damned thing.

    -- Eric Pearson

    "Not my circus, not my monkeys."

  • #2
    Hi Eric
    It is very sad to hear this. I'm just a beginner in PB and still exploring ways to use PB.

    I would like to know more about your SQL tools, do you provide stuff like dll or sll or inc files to run your SQL tools
    when I purchase them ?

    I have use MS Access databases, VBA and some MS SQL server but just touching the surface and nothing in depth, probably
    I may need to use them at a later stage, as I'm still learning.

    Can your SQL tools work with Access, MS SQL , Oracle, Sybase , Sqlite etc ?


    Comment


    • #3
      Eric, surely there must be a cheaper or free web hosting site where you can host Perfect Sync ? than to use shopify

      You can also use the free download sites like Mega NZ to provide for download links for your users ?

      Or get permission from Drake to host your software on this forum ? as PB and SQL Tools helps each other

      Comment


      • #4
        Hi Tim,

        Thanks for the interest!

        I provide both a DLL and a PBLIB, which is a collection of SLLs. Also an 800-page help file and lots of example programs.

        SQL Tools works with any database for which an ODBC driver is available. The DBMSs you listed are all used with SQL Tools all the time.

        See here for tons more information about SQL Tools.

        Added:

        The Shopify site provides ordering, credit card acceptance and other services, but there's a significant annual fee that runs out one month from today. I can still accept orders via PayPal, but I don't really need a "shopping site" as such because the volume is so low.

        SQL Tools is sent to customers via email, so there's no need for a download site, and PowerBASIC already provides a SQL Tools subform.

        And there's really no point to keeping the perfectsync.com website open, about the only thing people might search for would be PDFs, which I can distribute via email.

        -- Eric
        "Not my circus, not my monkeys."

        Comment


        • #5
          Eric, that is a very painful story even to read, and I feel for you.

          Like the poor, customers who cheat are always with us. Long ago, I was lucky to work for a man who impressed on me the following priorities: 1. sell 2. collect debt 3. ship goods and although I have ignored most advice this one stuck and I have suffered very little bad debt.

          Through his work, Bob has enriched many lives, one way or another. It is sad but not entirely surprising to learn that he was no saint.

          Have you considered adapting your products for use with other compilers? It seems a shame to throw away a good concept/product/business presence.



          Comment


          • #6
            Eric,
            there are alternatives for taking payments online which don't require a monthly fee or shopping cart programs.
            e.g. stripe.com

            If you only sell a handful of products then you can use the Stripe checkout.
            It appears as a button on your own website for each item you sell.
            Just create your web page with a form to collect customer details and add the Stripe checkout button which handles all the payments.



            Comment


            • #7
              Eric,

              I use BMT-Micro for handling sales of EZGUI. The beauty with them is that they only take 10% off the top when the sale is made , but absolutely no other charges are required. No monthly fees. No yearly fees. Nothing. They only get money when I sell something. In about 20 years using them they have never been late on a payment and their customer support is top notch. They are a small company in North Carolina and you don't have to deal with a big "monster" internet company. They also handle EU sales and can handle the VAT tax.

              For my website I use hypermart. Hypermart is reasonable in costs (about $45 every three months, which is about $15 a month). I have a domain name, but hypermart provides a subdomain for each account so you don't have to get a normal domain name, which saves a few pennies. My domain is cwsof.com, but if I couldn't afford to pay for a domain name anymore I can also use the free subdomain which is: chrisboss.hypermart.net

              Hypermart is geared towards businesses and provide top notch support, provide instant installation of dozens of open source software like wordpress, joomla and have web statistics.

              One sale of your software every 2 months would easily pay for a hypermart site and BMT-Micro has no overhead costs (just the clean 10% of each sale which is fair for all the payment options they provide and EU VAT tax support).

              Using Hypermart, within an hour or so you could load WordPress for a front end, install an online forum for peer to peer support (I use simple machine forums) and some other online CMS programs for almost anything you require.

              Not a bad way to bring in a little extra income during retirement. It is affordable.

              Now if you change your mind about selling SQL Tools, a suggestion, seeing the changes in Powerbasic in recent years, would be to offer the Standard version at a very low affordable price, say $29 rather than $99. Then offer the pro version for a reasonable price, but still affordable, say $99.

              The Powerbasic market has changed and while there are new users each month, the customer base can not support the higher prices third party vendors like us use to charge. This may change in the future, if Drake Software can really get PB back in gear with new products, but for now the market is smaller and new users are not the kind of developers of the past who would buy the higher priced stuff. Drake dropped their prices and they are very reasonable now, so third party tools have to match those price ranges. My EZGUI 5.0 originally sold for $249 and was worth every penny, but I now sell it for only $39.I found that to be the sweet spot for the current market conditions.
              Chris Boss
              Computer Workshop
              Developer of "EZGUI"
              http://cwsof.com
              http://twitter.com/EZGUIProGuy

              Comment


              • #8
                Chris,

                > other compilers

                Actually I sold a Visual Basic version of SQL Tools Version 2, and the demand was very low. I also provided header files for C and Delphi, and sold about 10 copies in all.

                Also, SQL Tools is written in PowerBASIC so the DLL is limited to 32-bit languages, which are mostly fading out. I suspect that the market has passed me by. It's not just a matter of creating header files... In order to produce a 64-bit DLL the SQL Tools source code would have to be ported to another BASIC.

                Paul,

                I used Stripe on another web site, so I'm familiar. I signed up for (and renewed) Shopify before the days of Stripe, etc. I suppose I could add a shopping-cart-style page on my own web site until the domain expires in 2020, thanks.

                -- Eric

                "Not my circus, not my monkeys."

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thanks, Chris, I'm not familiar with BMT-Micro or Hypermart. I'll definitely look into them, thanks.
                  "Not my circus, not my monkeys."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Chris,
                    The beauty with them is that they only take 10% off the top when the sale is made , but absolutely no other charges
                    "Only" 10%? That sounds extortionate!
                    Stripe have no set up or monthly charges either and charge 1.4% + 20p/transaction in the UK, 2.9% + 30c in the US.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Eric,

                      BMT-Micro also has many perks with it. You can run sales, define affiliates which let's others direct traffic to your sales site and they get a small percentage and they have excellent reports and so on. I can go back an track all my sales for the last 20 years. It is like an online accounting engine. They specialize in selling software from small independent developers and they sell some bigger name stuff too.

                      Links to the above noted sites: BMT-Micro is https://www.bmtmicro.com/

                      Hypermart is https://www.hypermart.net/hypermart/hosting.bml

                      Hypermart is offering the first term (12 months I think) for only $4.25 a month) for new customers. After that the regular prices apply which ranges from $15 a month to a little less if a longer term is selected.

                      Chris Boss
                      Computer Workshop
                      Developer of "EZGUI"
                      http://cwsof.com
                      http://twitter.com/EZGUIProGuy

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        10% may sound like a lot, but it is extremely fair. First they handle all the credit card stuff and all sorts of lesser common payment options, especially well suited to the EU countries.
                        Second, they don't charge overhead fees. No monthly or yearly fee just to have an account. For developers who may have dry periods of sales, not paying anything just to keep the store open makes sense.
                        Third compared to getting ones own merchant accounts to handle credit cards it is reasonable and everything is handled for you.

                        Lastly and this is the most important is the quality of service. You deal with real people. Got a problem with a customers order ? A quick email connects you with a real person on the other end who solves the problem fast. The account services are top notch ! They track all sorts of data about your orders/customers so you can generate all sorts of reports. They are reliable and trustworthy.

                        They pay you at the end of the month and in 20 years I have never had a problem in getting payments.

                        It is true that some of the bigger players in the ecommerce world may have lower percentages taken out of sales, but there are a lot of issues with such companies that make it a less than perfect experience. BMT-Micro just works and works well with no headaches. There are some of us who want a headache free experience and it is worth a measly 10% of the sale.
                        Chris Boss
                        Computer Workshop
                        Developer of "EZGUI"
                        http://cwsof.com
                        http://twitter.com/EZGUIProGuy

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          There will always be the Perfect Sync website on the WayBackMachine.

                          Joe

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            ... Turns out that I, too, am a competent programmer but a poor businessman. -- Eric Pearson
                            My first reaction ... Wow! That was a stunning post!

                            Programmer or businessman aside, you have shown yourself to be a remarkably generous man of integrity.

                            I hope you enjoy your retirement Eric.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Chris,
                              First, second and third.. all done by most online payments companies, including Stripe.


                              "They pay you at the end of the month and in 20 years I have never had a problem in getting payments."

                              You need to wait a full month? Stripe pay in 7 days.

                              Maybe 20 years ago you got a reasonable deal in a poor market place but today the market is far more competitive and you can do much better.


                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Eric

                                I am stunned

                                You, sir, are a gentleman - is that a British thing to say? - well you are anyway

                                I said at the time of Bob's demise that he should have had a successor plan - so that is another issue with his business approach. But he certainly was a language development and programming genius. He just needed a manager.

                                I am just about to launch 3 software products, so your story - and the responses - have a lot of relevance for me. I am still investigating the best way of doing it. Publicity seems to be my biggest challenge - whereas in your case, all you had to do was publicize to the PB community - is that right?

                                It seems that the difference between a stand alone software package and an add-on package have different marketing parameters - and this thread draws out those differences.

                                I actually signed up for Shopify - but I struggled to understand what they needed. Every time I asked them a question, they would reply by saying you can do this for only $x or you can do this for only $y - but they failed to answer my question. This happened again and again - and I gave up.

                                Maybe we should have a forum set up for issues with marketing our software. I wonder how many of us dream of finding the killer package (written in PB of course!) which will pay off the mortgage while we sip wine and laze on the beach?

                                All the best Eric. Find someway of using your genius to change the world. A failure is just another way of redirecting your attention!

                                Kerry




                                [I]I made a coding error once - but fortunately I fixed it before anyone noticed[/I]
                                Kerry Farmer

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Eric Pearson View Post
                                  I suspect that the market has passed me by.
                                  The market is so huge that the odds are the people who might use you haven't heard of you. Also you have a considerable body of work which you might be able to bend, mine or rework for other puposes/environments.

                                  FWIW, I have had steady work mostly from users of legacy software which "the market had abandoned" since 1978.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Chris Boss View Post
                                    10% may sound like a lot, but it is extremely fair. First they handle all the credit card stuff and all sorts of lesser common payment options, especially well suited to the EU countries.
                                    Second, they don't charge overhead fees. No monthly or yearly fee just to have an account. For developers who may have dry periods of sales, not paying anything just to keep the store open makes sense.
                                    Third compared to getting ones own merchant accounts to handle credit cards it is reasonable and everything is handled for you.

                                    Lastly and this is the most important is the quality of service. You deal with real people. Got a problem with a customers order ? A quick email connects you with a real person on the other end who solves the problem fast. The account services are top notch ! They track all sorts of data about your orders/customers so you can generate all sorts of reports. They are reliable and trustworthy.

                                    They pay you at the end of the month and in 20 years I have never had a problem in getting payments.

                                    It is true that some of the bigger players in the ecommerce world may have lower percentages taken out of sales, but there are a lot of issues with such companies that make it a less than perfect experience. BMT-Micro just works and works well with no headaches. There are some of us who want a headache free experience and it is worth a measly 10% of the sale.
                                    I think it would come down to volume in the end, if you have a volume business, you will want to pare costs to the bone, but for a niche product and service at that level you make a good case.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Thanks, Kevin, I appreciate it.

                                      Kerry,

                                      > all you had to do was publicize to the PB community - is that right?

                                      My add-on products were right on the PB order form, along with the compilers, so it was automatically "marketed" to all new PB purchasers for years. Lots of people bought both at the same time. And when Bob advertised (via email, to his customers) he always included my products.

                                      Chris H.,

                                      I'll consider it. Thanks for the encouragement; I have no concept of the current add-on market for other languages. It seems unlikely that there would be much demand for an ODBC-based system. Most languages use properties and methods these days, and SQL Tools is strictly procedural.
                                      "Not my circus, not my monkeys."

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Eric Pearson View Post
                                        Most languages use properties and methods these days, and SQL Tools is strictly procedural.
                                        Looks as though you have found your USP, Eric!


                                        Comment

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