face time

Christopher Hawkins, “I sat down with a copy of the Yellow Pages and hand-wrote – yes, hand-wrote, the same way your grandmomma hand-wrote letters to your grandpappy way back when he was serving in the Big Red One – a series of personal letters to the principal of every business in town that appeared to be even remotely technology-related.”

ive dosd myself

Sending out an email about your new version to all your customers and trial users at 3pm is NOT a good idea. Apparently everyone is just sitting there with nothing to do waiting to click the download links in your email! Hopefully everyone will get it soon and it will clear out. I’ll be doing this late at night from now on, so there’s at least some variance in the download time.

I probably need to tweak Apache, because the server should be up to it. It’s dual proc with 2gb of ram. Oh well, perhaps I don’t have enough child processes enabled.

Update: hmm. My host was down also so I guess I gave myself too much credit as it appears to have been a larger issue. Seems better now.

mr softy

Jensen Harris does a great job again of showing a simply, nifty feature of the Office 12. More great reasons why Microsoft isn’t going anywhere, as we discussed last month. It’s certainly going to take more than Writely to do it in any event (not that Writely isn’t cool). Beyond just Office, MS had a big day yesterday with rising profits announced. Note the reference to server products. Wasn’t that war already lost?

“Microsoft Corp. climbed $1.29 to $27.79 after seeing its quarterly profits grow 5 percent for the quarter. The software company said new server products helped boost sales, and with a new Windows operating system coming later this year, Microsoft increased its full-year earnings outlook.”

ajax spellchecking

Another nifty feature of HelpSpot 1.1 is the integrated ajax spellchecker. It’s pretty cool stuff. Personally, I use the one Safari has built in or Spellbound in Firefox, but not everyone has that option. Without further ado, exciting ajax spellchecking video!


[]: http://www.ianlandsman.comajaxspelling.mov

helpspot in the wild textdrive

I’ve been wanting to formalize my posts that are about customized HelpSpot portals, so this will be the first of hopefully many HelpSpot in the Wild posts.

This first formal post has a fantastic example of how customizable HelpSpots portal is. The great guys over at TextDrive (Web 2.0 hosting company, Ruby on Rails, merged with Joyent, etc) have just went live with their HelpSpot installation (help.textdrive.com). I have to say they’ve pushed HelpSpots portal even farther than I thought it could go! Here’s a few screenshots, but there’s alot more than just the look, which I’ll talk about below.

While the above is very impressive, what’s really impressed me is how they’ve leveraged the HelpSpot forums into a tool for real time issue tracking with their customers. In the bottom of the right nav there’s three links for “current issues”, “ongoing issues”, and “software updates”. What they’ve done is modify the portal forum templates so that the forums are essentially read only. Hence, their server team can post updates on outages, server down time and other customer issues which their customers can access in one convenient location. Also, since each forum comes with an RSS feed, they can offer their customers an RSS feed to keep track of downtime and other issues which may affect their servers right from their RSS readers. Brilliant guys!!!

BTW TextDrive guys, starting next week with the release of version 1.1 you’ll be able to use the mobile interface to the forums to post updates directly from the server floor without even having to go back to a computer to post.

Here you can see the list of current issues (forum topics):

Clicking on an issue brings up the details (topic posts):

isvs cultivate your audience

I think I may have been doing some other ISV’s a disservice over the past year. I’ve preached a lot about having to have a blog and how much blogging has done for my business. Unfortunately, I’ve left off a big piece of the advice and it’s getting some of you into trouble (not that you’re only listening to me, but I should have been giving proper advice all along).

See the thing is having a blog isn’t enough. Having readers isn’t enough. You have to cultivate your readers and a large part of that is responding to their comments. Over the past few months I’ve begun to notice a trend. I’m leaving comments on blogs and never getting a response from the blog owner. I’m not talking about blogs with tons of readers and 40 comments on every post. I’m talking about blogs that have just started and blogs where most posts have 0 comments.

I check back and check back, but nothing. That of course is discouraging and makes me less likely to read, comment or link over. If you don’t have time to respond to a comment when you have only a few comments a week then you’re not doing it right. You need to rethink if you want a blog. If you don’t cultivate your audience, if you don’t participate with them then I think it’s unlikely your blog will be successful at driving your other goal.

So if you’re going to do it then do it right otherwise you’re just wasting time which could be devoted to other matters.

app that needs building

I would pay some good money for a screenshot application that worked in conjunction with the browser and could replay scripts. With version 1.1 of HelpSpot on the horizon I’m coming to the terrible realization that I’ll need to redo a bunch of screenshots. Wouldn’t it be great if I just had a “tour” script which grabbed everything I needed? I think it would be and I’d pay a few hundred dollars for it without a blink. Modern software development is so easy and there are so many new software products coming out every day that I think there’s a good market out there for something like this.

Update: Several folks have sent me interesting emails with possible solutions, but they’re all Windows! I’m a Mac guy and really insist on doing my shoots on the Mac. What I really want is a great screenshoot tool like SnapZ, but with browser scripting. Sort of if SnapZ and Selenium had a baby 🙂

helpspot cracks the first page of a major search engine

Well, I’m happy to report that HelpSpot has finally cracked the first page of MSN for the enormously important ‘help desk software‘ query. While not the huge bonanza that a Google first page listing brings, it’s still a great big step forward. Why pay $35 a click when you can get that traffic for free right? Just an fyi for my new readers, I wrote up my SEO techniques a while back if you’re interested.

new prototype docs

All you Prototype users out there, Sergio has updated his very nice set of docs to cover the 1.4.0 version. Good news, as I was getting tired of poking around the source.