Writing (Beta)

MyStickies has had a great launch. It has been pretty successful. Quite a few users have a hard time setting it up, but once that is done, they enjoy using it. As of the time of this writing 17,982 accounts were created, 119,400 notes have been placed, 31,108 notes are currently sitting on pages accross the web and we are getting between 50 and 100 new users each day. MyStickies started off with a “Beta” tag on it, but went public without the beta label though it probably should have kept it. Unicode support was broken, usability was lacking, and databases had moments of down-time.

Why did we remove the beta label? Because Jason Fried said we shouldn’t. First was a blog post from 37 Signals. They noticed how many new Ajax applications were releasing with the “beta” label. Then in TechCrunch’s article “Don’t Blow Your Beta” he left this comment:

“There’s a better way not to blow your beta: don’t launch one at all. Public betas are rediculous. If your product is public, it’s not a beta, it’s a release. Take responsibility for your product. “Beta” only passes the buck to your customers — outsourcing your pain to them.

“Get over Beta already.”

And then Ajaxian released the article “The Importance of a Good Beta” and added to the above quote from Jason.

What’s wrong with beta? Nothing. Might not be a good idea to charge for a beta product. I don’t think 37 Signals should release BaseCamp or other commercial products with a beta label and charge their customers for it. But that doesn’t mean a free public beta is a bad thing. It is actually a very good thing to be able to get customer feedback early, have users test accross a large variety of platforms, OS’s, and machines, and rethink the goals of the product before all the cleanup work has been done.

If there is nothing wrong with a free beta, why did we change it? We didn’t want people to think we were not taking responsibility for it. We wanted MyStickies to be successful, and we thought people would listen to Jason and not use it if it said “Beta” on it. Were we right? Don’t know. People seem to use Gmail even though it has Beta on it’s logo.

It all comes down to the power of writing. The 37 Signals team has some very good writers and even emphasize that you need good writers to be successful. They have a massive following of people who read their blog and swear by what they write. I would bet most of their products successes are because of their great writing. Marketing themselves on the web. In order to be a have read blog, to generate a hype, to drive a web-application to be successful, good writing is important, maybe essential. My writing needs improvement for sure.

Flash Project Timer

A project timer is something I have been needing. I have trouble keeping track of hours for projects I have. I usually don’t worry about time traking for my personal projects, which is good because if I thought about all the time I’ve spent (wasted), I might take up a new hobby. But for contract work and for projects at mediaRAIN, I need to keep track of time I spend on each project. I always forget to write something down at the end of the day, and usually can’t remember how long I’ve spent

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anyway. So, I made a project timer. It actually is built in Macromedia Flash, and made into a nice executable using mProjector. I have yet to start using it for my projects, but it seems to be working pretty well. I thought I would share it in case anyone else needed something like this. It only works on Windows right now, but mProjector can make executables for Mac, so I’ll look at doing a Mac version soon. I used to have a screenshot of the app here. However, it’s flash, so why don’t I just put the swf up? Pretty small, unobtrusive, and hopefully usable. To use, click on the world icon, enter in a new project, hit enter, and then click the green play button to start timing. You can add as many projects as needed and choose them from the drop down that appears when you click the world icon. The timer also minimizes to the system tray. You can make it stay on top of all applications from the right click menu, as well as close it down from there. It doesn’t use the registry or create any files of it’s own. It only uses the Flash SharedObject (which is basically a cookie for Flash). Also, if it works the way it should, you can look at a projects total time, the time for the current day, current week, current month, or even a custom time period. When you click custom, it will ask you for a start day. You can also put in an end day by adding a dash and another full date (e.g. “14/11/2005-18/11/2005”). You may download the following: flash_timer-mac-0.1.zip flash_timer-win-0.1.zip Hope it helps!

Tutorial? How About a Project!

In writing the articles on object oriented programming I have stuck with theory. After all, it is not language specific and takes less space to say what there is to say. However, I have been asked by serveral to provide a tutorial or include examples on object oriented code. Well, I’ve decided to do almost that.

Mint, Stat’s and Design

Mint is a new product recently released to track the statistics on your website. It has gotten much attention from several areas, and I thought it would be worth it to check it out.

Dreamweaver and CSS Still Don’t Play Nice

After hearing about the new CSS based workflow of Dreamweaver 8, which came out yesterday evening, I had high hopes that the rendering engine for CSS and HTML would have been improved. Disappointingly, this wasn’t the case. Why don’t they try using the rendering engines for Firefox, Safari, and even IE. The first two are now completely open for use and the latter would be smart to include even if there is a liscencing fee.

Another Product from Google

Google has just released Google Talk, an instant messaging and voice over IP client

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