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On Bait – The Bill Lindgren Story

April 8, 2005

One of the funniest events of my life!  Found this old entry.  I can’t find the original images though  🙁

April 08, 2005

For the first time in my life I was confused by the simple conception of ‘bait’

Around one year after I graduated high school my life completely bottomed out. All streams of income, every project failed — everything was gone. I wasn’t of the best of spirits beforehand, but after losing all forms of income and watching every project I’d been working on bottom out — it was a rough time. Broke and sitting in my expensive office, I wondered what I was going to do.

Then, a light seemed to shine through the darkness. Was it, a possible lead? A possible software project? Life seemed to bring with it new hopes that maybe I could come out of the pit I’d fallen in. Linscan, Inc., a company on the 3rd floor of the Pine Center needed some software developed. They said it was an educational product to assit in learning. Sounded interesting.

So they called me upstairs to come and look at joining the Linscan team in working on ‘Quiz Bowl’. I thought, I wonder what these guys do? They always have their doors closed. I found out they produce neurological brain surgeon equipment. Brain Ultra-Sound machines (I think). They make a custom hardware device that integrates with custom software that is used by neuro-surgeons during brain surgery. They sound pretty awesome. Well, entering their office, I found lots of miscellaenous electronic parts scattered with scattered desks of employees working on various things. Then there’s the president, Bill Lindgren, who’s most notably known to Pine Center tenants as the old guy walking in with his huge golden retreiver. I was in. Time to hear about this Quiz Bowl project.

Greg actually accompanied me on this deal and we started talking with Bill about Quiz Bowl. We found out it was some software product Linscan was developing for apparently some guy Bill knew. It was for schools when they’d have those stupid contests where the teacher would ask a question and the students would use these custom buzzer deals to buzz in and answer the question. If they were right, it tallied their scores. It also featured a timer that kept counting down for the various rounds. Impressed? I wasn’t. In fact, it was one of the worst software programs I’d ever been approached with. I had just got done developing a complete medical records system for a clinic which billed insurance providers, wrote prescriptions, analyzed patients, … pretty much ran a clinic, and also recently developed scientific research software for a university Physics department. Now, some stupid Quiz software for students? What was my life coming to? Anyways, I asked him more about it and he told me that I was to join their already existent team. Quiz Bowl was already in development for a good year. A Year? For that? No way! Who was the team? Two UMR students, and they were milking this project for all it was worth. Getting paid some low wage per-hour they basically sat around, goofed off, and did as little work as possible. Can’t blame em’ though. Turned out that the developer they had on the project wasn’t the original developer and the ‘new guy’ was learning the old guy’s code. Give me a break, this project consisted of about 2 screens. An intro screen and a ‘game’ screen. It basically added some point totals for a few teams and stored the students names. Played a little sound whenever a round ended! Oh man! I said to Bill, “I’ll tell you what, I’ll re-write that entire project in less than one week. You get rid of these college students who are milking you for money and you pay me a one time fee of … eh, $200. If you want it updated, I’ll charge you a little chunk per update, but this project will take me no time at all. In fact, I’ll develop the whole project upfront for no money and you only pay me if you like what you see. I’ll be by a few days from now with the entire project completed. There’s no risk to you, at all.” The project would literally take me 30 minutes to create. Even my week was over-estimating. These students had milked this puppy for a year! Well, it sounds like a good deal, doesn’t it? Bill didn’t seem to think so. He replied, “I don’t really see what you’re offering to the project. I don’t see any benefit here. I need some bait.” I replied, “I’ll save you both time and money, what more bait is there?” Bill replied, “I just need bait. I’m going to have to contact this guy and I’m going to have to give him bait.” What is going on here. We kept reiterating that there was no risk on his end, no upfront money, in fact the amount he’d pay me was less than 1 week of paying these college students and then there’d be no more fees. He replied again, “I need bait.”

Talk about craziness. I’d never encountered such stupidity in my entire life. Who was this guy? I’d never presented anyone such a deal in my life — I’d never developed a project for that cheap. I couldn’t believe it. Greg got so frustrated he ended up power-walking out the room, slamming the door. I, desperate for cash, kept pleeding with Bill. No luck, Bill wasn’t budging — He needed ‘bait’. Eventually I also gave up and left the room. I couldn’t figure this one out. Our only explanation was that Bill was pandering to the UMR students because he was once a UMR student. That’s not really solid justification, and still, logic wasn’t there. Noone is that stupid. Something else was going on here. Bill just didn’t seem to want me on the project.

If you want, check Linscan and Bill out on the web:
http://www.linscan.com/

For fun, I thought I’d post some screenshots of Linscan’s “Quiz Bowl” software. I just so happened to acquire a copy before I got out of there.

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In conclusion, remember the apparently complex question: What is bait?

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