Archive for December, 2011

Profile: Gary Elfring

December 25th, 2011
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The Association of Software Professionals started out in 1987. Our members invented the way that software is sold today, as pioneers in try-before-you-buy marketing.

Here’s another in our series of profiles of our members. All we asked was this: How did you get started?

Gary Elfring, of Elfring Fonts, Inc, joined the ASP on January 11th, 1989, and is online at

Jerry Stern, Editor, ASPects

Gary Elfring

I specialized in computer signal processing in graduate school. When I got out of school I went to work for a small medical company, which was a “pet” project of Mr Schlumberger. (One of the two brothers who founded Schlumberger.) He had a medical device based on a PDP-8 minicomputer and he needed major software and hardware developed for it. I finished the hardware and explained exactly how the software should work to Mr Schlumberger.

He did not think my software ideas would work or fly with the doctors who would use the device. He told me not to implement those ideas for his big conference where he would show off his new device. I, of course, completely ignored him. I made the software work exactly the way I wanted it, and I had a back door which would let it run the way he wanted it to work. (Just in case.)

At the big conference, I demonstrated the device, running in “Gary” mode. The doctors loved it. Mr Schlumberger was *very* quiet. Nothing happened for about 2 weeks after the conference. Then I was summoned to a meeting with Mr Schlumberger. He told me that my approach was much better than his, the doctors loved the way his device now worked, and he gave me a complete build-it-yourself home computer kit. (It cost about $2,000 back in 1976.)

I built the computer and started writing software for it, since there was nothing available. When CP/M came out I built a floppy disk interface and wrote the bios for the CP/M operating system and that brand of home computer. I started selling the bios and that was the start of my software sales.

Interviews, Uncategorized

2011 Epsilon Award for Software Excellence

December 18th, 2011
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European Software Conference and Epsilon AwardGRAHL software design’s PDF Annotator was named the winner of the 2011 Epsilon Award at the 11th annual European Software Conference (ESWC). Each year, The Epsilon Award recognizes the best software application from the European software and microISV community. ASP is a Supporting Sponsor of the ESWC. Oliver Grahl and Erwin Denissen, the two top winners of this year’s awards, are both ASP members.

PDF Annotator is a Windows application that makes it simple to add notes to any PDF document. You can make comments and corrections, highlight portions of the text, add signatures, and even include designs and drawings. It’s easy to type comments or paste images on top of existing PDF content. Save your additions in the original file and share them with friends and colleagues, with no need for special software to view the marked-up document.

In addition, PDF Annotator lets you add blank pages to an existing PDF document, combine documents, copy pages, and resequence or delete pages. With one click you can remove or hide all of your changes, or simply restore the document to the original version.

PDF Annotator runs under Windows 7/Vista/XP/2000 and costs $69.95(US) for a single-user license.

The Epsilon Award’s second-place winner was High-Logic B.V. for its MainType program. MainType is a Windows 7/Vista/XP/2000 font manager and font viewer that makes it easy to find, preview, organize, install, and print your fonts.

The 12th annual European Software Conference will be held November 24th and 25th, 2012 in Munich, Germany. Additional information about the Epsilon Award, and about the European Software Conference, can be found on

– by Al Harberg, the Software Marketing Glossary guy

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Profile: Jerry Medlin

December 15th, 2011
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The Association of Software Professionals started out in 1987. Our members invented modern software marketing, try-before-you-buy, and freeware and changed how software is sold.

Here’s another in our series of profiles of our members. All we asked was this: How did you get started?

Jerry Medlin, of Medlin Accounting Shareware, joined the ASP on July 23rd, 1987, and is online at

Jerry Stern, Editor, ASPects


Jerry Medlin

I graduated from the University of Arkansas with a degree in Industrial Engineering. My first job was with Procter and Gamble in Memphis. I absolutely hated Memphis and decided I had had enough of the Bible Belt. So, in January ‘67 I flew to San Francisco and within a few days had a job working at the Alameda Naval Air Rework Facility, doing plant layout for aircraft over hall. I had found my place. If you remember, 1967 was the “Summer of Love” in San Francisco. I met my wife there in 1969 and worked for Lucky Breweries for a year and then C & H Sugar for three years.

I never really liked working as an “efficiency expert”; following people around with a stop watch. After our daughter was born in 1973, I decided I did not want to live the conventional life of watching my kids grow up only during nights and weekends. So, I quit my job and purchased a bookkeeping franchise. The only county not covered was Napa, so we packed up and moved to Napa. At that time, Napa had on about 40 wineries and the main employers were the state hospital and Mare Island Shipyard in Vallejo.

I enjoyed being self-employed and helping small businesses keep straight with the various government stuff. The bookkeeping franchise used a mainframe computer and I paid a hefty monthly fee for processing. When the Radio Shack computer came out, I bought one of the first 16k machines. There was no software available, so I taught myself how to program and wrote a series of accounting programs for my own use, using the Radio Shacks cheap little tape recorder to store client data. Like all software, it is/was a lifetime project. I sold the programs to other accountants in Napa, and capitalizing on their problems, I improved the programs.

In 1984, I read an article about PC-Talk and Andrew Fugleman and thought “I could do that.” In June, I sent out 100 disks to various computer clubs around the country. In November I received my first check. The business grew. Except for a brief dip during the switch from DOS to Windows, the business has grown regularly for 27 years.

Interviews, Uncategorized

Profile: Gregg Seelhoff

December 5th, 2011
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The Association of Software Professionals started out in 1987. Our members ended the rule of software boxes on shelves by inventing try-before-you-buy, and now, that’s how all good software is sold.

Here’s another in our series of profiles of our members. All we asked was this: How did you get started?

Gregg Seelhoff, of Digital Gamecraft, joined the ASP on December 30th, 1999, and is online at

Jerry Stern, Editor, ASPects


Gregg Seelhoff

I grew up with a love of games, and I spent a couple of weeks each summer at my uncle’s pinball arcade, just at the time when video games were starting to appear, so I literally grew up alongside video games. I also really enjoyed board games, card games (including lots of solitaire), and had a growing interest in Dungeons and Dragons.

Then, in late 1978, a friend took me to the local computer store, where I was able to play computer games on microcomputers, including a game called Wizard’s Castle, a role-playing game (like D&D), on the Exidy Sorceror. An in-game death experience caused me to learn that the game’s author worked in the store, and he talked me through a couple of BASIC commands which resurrected my character, and this first “programming” experience caused me to start learning BASIC that very day. The next day, I was back at the store and ended up (at the age of 12) helping a college student debug and fix his number-theory program, and I have been programming ever since.

Of course, I always wanted to create games on the computer, so I spent most of my time teaching myself programming (from books) and designing (and even coding) games on paper, all while trying to borrow computer time whenever and wherever I could. Even though I did not have my own computer yet, I formed my company in 1982 for the purpose of programming video games. I tried to sell one game, written for the TRS-80, via Computer Shopper. Later that year, I got my first programming job, earning enough over the summer to buy myself a Commodore VIC-20 (but not enough for an Apple ][ like the ones I had been primarily using). I wrote lots of games for the VIC-20 and attempted (naively) to publish one of those video games via retail channels.

After high school I had a couple of full-time programming jobs on the (new) IBM PC, so I changed my focus to writing games for DOS. I learned about shareware and managed to obtain a decent development system, so I bought a couple of inexpensive compilers and struck out on my own. Shortly thereafter, I learned that there was (incredibly) a game development company, Quest Software, writing retail games near my hometown, and I soon got hired as their lead programmer, where I worked on two retail games, Legacy of the Ancients (Electronic Arts) and Legend of Blacksilver (Epyx). Unfortunately, Quest went out of business in 1990, but during the decline, I managed to finish and release my first shareware game, Pacmania 1.1, a Pac-Man clone.

It was a moderate success, and led to several interesting opportunities, but it was not enough to feed my family, so I worked for a couple of years programming in the emerging field of multimedia, before deciding to get back into retail games. I had a short stint working at (fellow ASP member) TechSmith, as the only programmer (at the time) working on SnagIt (version 2.1), before receiving a few job offers from the West Coast. I accepted a Senior Software Engineer position at Spectrum HoloByte and was soon the lead programmer on Star Trek: The Next Generation, “A Final Unity.” Toward the end of that project, several issues converged to bring me back to Michigan where, in late 1994, my company went full-time.

The next year, I brought in a partner to handle the artwork for the games we planned to create, and we pursued retail game funding while surviving on contract work for a number of different companies, including Zombie Games, Legend Entertainment, and MVP Software, culminating in work on Microsoft Plus! Game Pack: Cards and Puzzles, as we shifted our focus back towards shareware. Our (long overdue) membership in the ASP led to working with Goodsol Development, initially on artwork and a custom library for Pretty Good Solitaire, and subsequently on several new products, including (SIA winner) Pretty Good MahJongg, and an expansion to new platforms. This collaboration has now continued for 10 years!

Digital Gamecraft plans to release a new (IOS) product later this year.

Interviews, Uncategorized

December 2011 ASPects

December 1st, 2011
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Every month, the ASPects newsletter is sent to ASP members. The entire 24-year history is available online in the members’ archive, and is fully-searchable.

Here are this month’s articles, available to members of the Association of Software Professionals.

Newsletter of the Association of Software Professionals, December

2011 Annual Meeting Has Started
by Gianfranco Berardi
It’s that time of year again. This is an official notice of the Annual Membership Meeting, as required by section 3.12 of the bylaws. The Annual Membership Meeting of the Association of Software Professionals has begun… The voting part of the meeting begins Thursday, December 1, 2011…. (page 1)

Director Nominees’ Statements for 2012
Ed Pulliam (page 1)

Trade Show Calendar
(page 2)

ASP News
Gianfranco Berardi appointed as President, steps down from Board of Directors (page 3)

LodSys Patents, Summary
by Bob Flora
The following post concerning the current Lodsys threat appeared in the ASP Members newsgroup. The post is also linked to from the Lodsys page on the ASP Members web site. The Lodsys page can be reached on the ASP Members web site by navigating to Member Information > Legal Resources > Information Concerning the Lodsys Patents. (page 3)

Autoresponders – An Effective Software Sales Tool
by Jiri Novotny
When it comes to marketing, as a software business owner, you have two major tasks:
1) Bringing more visitors to your website
2) Converting the visitors to paying customers
Now, this is of course very simplified, as there can be many intermediate steps… (page 4)

microISVs versus Software Giants
by Al Harberg
Since the beginning of shareware, small software development companies have been competing with software giants. On paper, it’s very difficult for the microISVs to win these competitions. Yet year after year, we find one-person companies taking significant market share away from the well-financed software publishers.
   How can a small company–say, a small software developer–compete with a huge company? (page 6)

Member Profiles III: So, How’d You Get Started?
by Jerry Stern
The stories continue over in the .schmooze discussion forum on the ASP’s members-only site. Join us there, at
This month: Tom Guthery IV
Harold Holmes (page 8 )

News and Press Corner
McAfee Releases Top Five Tips to Avoid Bad Apps
Shifting Sales Tax Compliance Burden Will Harm Small Businesses, Says CompTIA CEO
BizSpark at Xtranormal: Movie-Making for Everyone (page 10)

ASPects Newsletter, Uncategorized