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Re: hort.net moving, part II (LONG)

Well said Theresa.. ditto!
Seems as one door closes another opens.. A few years ago I attempted to
downsize my life. Still hasn't happened, although I don't do the same
things. I found it hard to let go, felt bored, missed it alot.
Unfortunately, the things I do now are not as exciting as before
(working way too much and taking care of Mother).... And it seems you
never really catch up on all the things you put aside to do later.....

Maybe someday I will have time to smell the flowers as they say...... 

----- Original Message ----
From: Theresa W. <tchessie1@sbcglobal.net>
To: gardenchat@hort.net
Sent: Wednesday, August 23, 2006 7:27:20 PM
Subject: Re: [CHAT] hort.net moving, part II (LONG)

Can we have a standing ovation please!  No, really, I'm not teasing I 
mean it.  I think it is great that you've made such a huge decision and 
are taking back control over what you want to do.  I know I could 
certainly take a lesson from this (and likely a few other could too- if 
they are honest with themselves).  So, I think a great big huge thank 
you is due, for keeping us alive.  My next question is, what is the cost 
to keep our listserv up and running?  I would like to contribute a 
reasonable amount on a quarterly or semiannually basis.  Is the 
$200/month just for us, or is there some percentage of that which we are 
consuming?  Please don't say not to worry about it.  This listserv is 
important to me, I get a ton out of it, both in terms of learning and 
support ,and so I see it as a priviledge to contribute my part.


P.S.  You can't disappear, because several people here know where you 
live and you are a critical part of this community!!

Christopher P. Lindsey wrote:
> Hi guys,
> First I plead for solutions and broadside you with huge changes, then 
> disappear.  I apologize for that -- I meant to stay involved in the 
> discussion, but life got in the way again.  Everything bad seems to be
> happening this summer.
> Anyhow, this time I'm going to give you a lot of background, some future
> planning, and a lot of rambling.  *Then* I'll disappear.  :)  OK, I'll
> try not to.
> When I was studying Landscape Architecture as an undergraduate, I really
> wanted to apply my knowledge of computers to the industry.  I started
> developing plans for landscape design software, plant expert system 
> databases, etc. 
> While researching available resources I met Gary Kling, an Associate 
> Professor at the University of Illinois who was creating a digital 
> encyclopedia of plant material in collaboration with IBM and the USDA
> ( this evolved into the UIPlants project at http://wp.nres.uiuc.edu/ ).
> Gary and I hit it off and I soon joined the graduate program working
> on UIPLANTS.  The Web wasn't around yet, so we wrote everything under
> Windows and scanned our images in a whopping 400x267 256-color format.
> We could barely fit the images onto our $2000 1GB disk drive.
> (The program was used through 2000 or so under Windows and OS/2, but
> I rewrote it for the Web at a later date.)
> Anyhow, that project only whetted my appetite for larger projects.
> I knew that I had a background that could help the industry -- I knew
> about plants and was well-versed in all things computer, able to do
> anything from run a server to write assembly language code to do graphic
> manipulation in three dimensions.  In 1996 I founded Mallorn Computing
> to help provide technical solutions for the green industry.
> What I really wanted to do with Mallorn was innovate.  I wanted to use
> LPS (local positioning systems) and/or RFID tags to help nurseries,
> arboreta, and botanic gardens catalog their plants.  I wanted to write
> inventory management and design software, plant identification and 
> selection software, etc.  But to do that, I needed money.  
> I started taking on Web clients and would pretty much do 'anything moral'
> for a buck.  We hosted La Leche League, another ISP's Web pages, some 
> mailing lists, and then a bunch of nursery Web sites.  I was ecstatic
> when we got Heronswood as a client.
> The goal was to do the work for the nurseries, then funnel the cash back
> into Mallorn to fund my projects.  Unfortunately, each client had a 
> diverse set of needs and required a substantial amount of my time.  I
> found myself paying for more bandwidth and installing more software as
> they became more and more needy, eventually to the point where I had
> no time of my own left.  Or rather, when I did have time I didn't WANT
> to spend it innovating for hort.net -- I wanted to be away from the
> computer.  Having a full-time job in the computer industry didn't help
> things either.
> This continued pretty much until present day.  I always balanced just
> the right number of clients with our network costs, but could never
> make more money because it took too much time.  We would just break 
> even.
> hort.net was created when I realized this might happen.  I thought that 
> maybe I could provide an online resource for people, and if it was
> getting paid for by Mallorn's funds and we were breaking even, great!
> I even started envisioning a shift towards Web-based services, making
> hort.net a great community for horticulturists everywhere.
> But again, bandwidth, time, and money were issues.  Our network was too
> slow to allow file sharing and other features that I wanted.  I couldn't
> increase the bandwidth because it cost too much (we were paying as much as
> $800/month for connectivity at one point) and I couldn't work more to
> cover it because I didn't have the time.  We were always hovering right
> on the threshold and I secretly wished that something would happen where
> Mallorn could shut down.
> My wishes came true.  :)  When Burpee outsourced Heronswood's Web site 
> to India, Mallorn's finances took quite a blow.  I lost even more interest
> in the site because we were losing money, and subsequently other clients
> left.  I was embroiled in a political struggle within an organization that
> we hosted Web space for and found that taking up even more time, but it
> became clear that they would soon be leaving when they fired their Web
> development team.
> At that point I decided that Mallorn had to go away.  I don't want to
> kill hort.net, so I thought that hosting it on a server somewhere else
> might be a valid solution.  It would only cost us $200/month instead of
> the $600/month that we're paying.  With this in mind, I started contacting
> more needy clients and telling them that we couldn't support their
> sites any more.  
> The differences to hort.net *shouldn't* be noticeable at first.  The site
> should keep running as expected, maybe even faster than before.
> My hope is that I'll have time to start adding features and innovating
> again since I won't spend my time doing work for clients.  The Web site
> should be paid for by site-wide advertising, and some extra consulting
> work on the side should pad the coffers in case advertising hits a lull.
> Even the bandwidth will be greater, so we'll be able to add all of those
> features we've always dreamed of.
> The only sad part for me is that the original vision for Mallorn Computing
> is dead.  I don't see any way to develop the level of software for the
> industry that I've wanted to without giving up my day job.  Maybe hort.net
> will take off and become profitable enough for me to pick up the reins
> again, but I'm doubtful.  For now, I'll have to content myself with Web
> work and a community of great online personalities.  :)
> And maybe, just maybe, this change will reduce some of the stressors in
> my life so that I can be a happier person.
> Chris
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