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From: firstname.lastname@example.org (klmok)
Subject: Re: Contract Dispute questions.
X-Newsreader: Forte Free Agent 1.21/32.243
Date: Wed, 20 Nov 2002 07:47:07 GMT
NNTP-Posting-Date: Wed, 20 Nov 2002 00:47:07 MST
Organization: Shaw Residential Internet
On 19 Nov 2002 17:42:11 -0800, Winfield Hill
> [ snip sad story ]
> Your story sounds to me like classic software engineering trouble.
> One engineer to create a specialized hardware platform and to also
> write the software, which is a recipe for disaster. :-( Well, it
> sounds like you were happy with his initial prototype, the question
> is what happened after that?
No I wasn't. The progress was pretty lame on all fronts from the very
beginning. There was no preliminary design study on his part and he
just improvised as he went along. There were a lot of omissions and
suspicious work habits that buzzed my antenna but all I wanted was a
finished product and did not comment on how he managed the project.
Having paid the down payment I had to encourage them to finish the
Until Nov this year the max small claims court was only $7500 and
therefore not worth pursuing. I wanted the project done.
>My guess is that the prototype didn't
> implement all the software functionality you sought, and he ran into
> trouble trying to implement it.
There was a hardware engineer and a software engineer on the project,
if they found time at all to work on my project. Being a complete
stranger to this game I had "sucker" written all over my face.
First the contractor wanted to buy into the project but I said why not
have a working copy first then we can talk. He then tried to get me
to load up my project for his tax write offs. For $20K ($50K for the
whole project) there was no way I was going to screw up my taxes
especially when I have more projects in the pipeline for which I will
All the software written to date wouldn't even fill up one floppy
disk which had room for two gerber files and had disk space to spare.
We are looking at a small program way under 700KB.
>There's little doubt the problem
> isn't insufficient memory space, even if the over-extended fellow
> used that as an excuse, but instead simply inadequate software
> expertise and implementation.
This is important to me. What is the technical explanation that a
software fix would have succeeded? His engineers said that there was
not enough addressable memory.
> Let's assume that you have a solid hardware platform.
Not even close. As I said it froze up the PC by just leaving it
Alarming response. I emailed the gerber files to 3 board fab
companies, one local, one in another province and one US. They
wouldn't even return my emails, phone calls or faxes, all three of
them . They were all so solicitious during initial enquiries.
> bet now and your fastest time-to-market, which is what counts, is
> to find a new programmer and to enlist the help of your hardware
> engineer in bringing the new fellow up to speed and writing solid
> code for your design.
Already done on a clean sheet with a new contractor and the
development time is 4 months with all the bells and whistles. It even
cost less than the first contractor's price. I will get a fully
functional and manufacturable product by March 2003, 9 months from
start date of the input device project plus this electronics module
project. Got government funding for them too. It such a pleasure to
work with the two new teams.
The first contractor obviously did not have the technical expertise
to undertake even this third year undergrad lab project. There is no
way I want to have him do anything and drag out the agony for another
> Forget a lawsuit, that'll drive you into
> deeper trouble. $20k is not much money for a complex project, and
> is not necessarily out of line for refined producible hardware, so
> another $10 to 20k to get the engineering finished is in order.
The trouble is that it is a standard engineering project cobbling
together off the shelf solutions. The real innovation is in the input
device, an entirely separate project not involving the first
contractor. This is an electro mechanical device, for use by the
disabled, that plugs into the electronics module then to the PC.
The beauty of the small claims court is that I don't need lawyers.
The limit falls exactly within my claim. I have enough email trail of
evidence and the fact of his crappy breadboard to argue my case. He
never wrote any progress reports to explain his work one way or
another, a violation of a contract condition. 18 months on a four
month estimate is way beyond any reasonable extension. I don't need
to salvage anything from him. I might as well go for the monetary
damages. At worse I get nothing which is exactly the posiiton I am in
Plus by the time it reaches court I will have a superior working
implementation of what the project is about including the development
timeline and costs. He can't claim that it is too complex or
impossible to build.
> After that you'll have much larger expenditures for the production
> runup and for marketing, etc., not to mention staffing for sales.
Yep. This invention has taken a life on its own. Fortunately its a
project anyone can love and I have received a lot of support from the
engineering community (free advice), the economic development
agencies, the medical profession and most of all ,the funding agencies
including the tax dept (for tax credits.)
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