In a recent post, 37signals showcased what it means for a company to know where it stands. Their example was the NYC bike maker Francesco Bertelli.
Bertelli is a great example of a company that knows where it stands. The best way to know where you stand is to figure out what you won't do. What will you say no to? Francesco puts his no's right out in front. It makes the experience better for everyone.
And it's true, Bertelli makes beautiful bikes.
Software and bikes are very similar in this regard. Too many software tools on the college market fight feature for feature and use words like robust, comprehensive, and all-in-one.
We're happy to let them continue to out feature each other. May the company with the longest list of features win. With every new feature comes complexity and distancing from the core values and the schools find it harder and harder to gain adoption.
There's beauty in simplicity. There's also usability in simplicity.
If you're curious about where we stand, check out our previously posted guiding principles: Part 1, 2, and 3
A massive fire [see picture below] erupted in a building across the street from where Annie and I live. Reports online say the smoke was visible as far away as New Jersey.
Fires happen all the time, but not across the street from us. The amazing thing, and a sign of the times, is I heard about the fire first on Twitter. In fact, Twitter and CNN txt alerts are becoming more and more my first line news sources. I suspect I'm not alone either.
Keyboard Maestro Description: Create simple or complex scripts for repetitive tasks. How I Use It: For ad hoc projects that have a repetitive task or series of steps. As a hot key to open specific folders or programs as well as for auto filling contact info, html codes, dates, websites, etc. I Wish: Nothing right now :-) Bottom Line: Every key on my keyboard has a second or third use because of KM. It would be almost impossible to operate without this tool.
Punakea Description: Organize your desktop files and programs with tags. How I Use It: I had to go back and retag some old files and programs, but now that everything is tagged I no longer have the "now where did I put that" frustration. Also, I was able to reduce the number of apps sitting in my Dock as they are just a tag away. I Wish: The tag field would show up in the same "Save As" box so I can do both at the same time. It also needs a 140 character description field for quick reference of those random programs I downloaded but now can't remember their function. Maybe this could show up on a mouse hover... Bottom Line: Think Delicious.com for your desktop.
iClip Description: A supercharged copy and pasting tool How I Use It: All the time. When I'm coping and pasting several things between screens, I can do it all at once instead of going back and forth for each copy and paste. Also nice when I need to look back at my C&P history to grab something. I Wish: Nothing right now :-) Bottom Line: You'll never go back to one-at-a-time copy and pasting.
MaxBulk Mailer Description: Create professional bulk emails from your desktop with timing tools and custom fields How I Use It: If I'm sending out a bulk email but want to make it look personal, this is my tool. The custom fields allow for mass personalization, the timing reduces spam issues, and the integration with Address Book is easy as can be. I Wish: It integrated with MacMail. Bottom Line: Spammers love it, but so do I. With anything, there's a good and dark force.
Password Wallet Description: Keep your passwords safe, organized, and synced with your iPhone. How I Use It: I used to have all my login and financial info stored in my Address Book. BIG MISTAKE but fortunately I got smart before damage happened by moving all my info to PW. And now it's synced with my iPhone. I Wish: It had a Firefox plug-in to autofill info for me. Bottom Line: Keeping track of secret info across platforms is not easy, but this is a nice light app. I'm testing 1Password now so this might get replaced soon.
Skitch - Quickly capture, edit, and post images online. Picturesque - Give your pictures that little extra special professional touch. uTorrent - Always on stand by when needed. Adium - Merge all your IMs into one place. eMail Extractor - Mass scrape information off of websites. MacJournal - A drag-and-drop protected desktop journal. (If only it had RSS In) ScreenFlow - Easily make professional screen captures. Jing - Quickly capture and post videos and images online. Freedom - Force yourself to focus by cutting off any access to a network for a set time Maildrop - Syncs my MacMail with Salesforce.com
Last winter, I attended a friend's "Ugly Sweater Party." Though much of the night was spent pointing and laughing at the excessive use of bedazzles and sequins, I got sidetracked into a conversation with someone I'd never met before. We simply disagreed on almost every topic from politics to raw food. As we finished sparing, we cordially shook hands and went on with the party. Throughout the night I conversed with several other people I'd never met before. Around 50 people attended the party and I was the only one in my specific profession. There were a few people in education and some in technology, but most had professions seemingly unrelated to mine. In this physical setting, I was "forced" to engaged with a variety of people that normally I wouldn't seek out. In doing so, I expanded my comfort zone, my perception of myself and my perception of the world. Now let's take that idea to Facebook...
90% of my Facebook friends are people I've met in the physical world. Like most people, the majority of them are family, friends, classmates, co-workers, teammates etc. For most of my friends, our accounts are connected because we share a lot in common, but, for others, we are friends because we kinda have to be (e.g. family).
After President Obama's major speech on Health Care to the joint session of congress, I read though my Facebook newsfeed to see some general reactions. While most shared the same opinion as me (as I'd expect them to do based on their past status updates), some had the opposite opinion and based on their past status updates, it's also what I'd expect. Though I disagree with their opinion, I've yet to remove someone as a Facebook friend based on their political views. I feel obligated to keep connected to them because we have some sort of physical real world relationship. Now take that idea to Twitter....
I've noticed on Twitter if someone tends to repeatedly post a lot of political spin that I don't agree with, I'm quick to remove or block them from my account. The majority of my Twitter followers (85%) are people I've not met in the physical world, but rather people that tend to share the same topical interests as me (e.g. education, technology, entrepreneurship). Using tools like WeFollow, I'm able to quickly find my tribe of people and lock into some amazing conversations. But lately, I've noticed my Twitter stream feels very homogeneous. I don't find many in my stream that force me to think radically different from what I'm already thinking. That doesn't mean I don't gain massive value from my stream, just that we are all basically on the same page and I think that can be dangerous.
One strategy to combat this would be to actively seek out people unlike me and follow them. That way, my stream becomes more diverse, but, unlike the sweater party and unlike Facebook where I naturally have diversity, on Twitter someone has to consciously seek out diversity. That seems like a problem where we might all end up in our own small echo chambers online.