reporting for fogbugz

Rudolf has released a special edition of DBxtra for FogBugz. What a fantastic idea. He’s got a product that does everything needed and with just a touch of customization is able to reach an entire new market. Nice job Rudolf! If you’re in the market for customized FogBugz reporting you should check it out.

Rudolf also has a pretty snazzy help desk and product forums 😉

finally a decent new isv website

There’s been a spate of posting to the JOS forums lately with people wanting feedback on their websites. I’m sorry to say that almost all of them are terrible. My cheapskate post pretty much covers my thoughts.

I’ve been feeling a bit negative on the community as a whole lately actually. I think people are starting to distort the MicroISV idea. It started as an idea that one person or a small group could make big products (support your family big at least) by using new tools and leveraging the internet. Now some people think it means produce junk with out much work and make a bunch of money. I mean if you’re putting no thought into your website how serious can you be about your web based business?

So I was happy to see a post tonight by Jason Sankey about his new product, Pulse. I encourage you to go checkout his site. If you’re going to send around a link for thoughts your site should look at least this good before you bother or you’re just wasting peoples time.

Great job Jason, good luck!

valianthost two thumbs up way up

This is just a quick shout out to Giorgio and his crew over at ValiantHost. ValiantHost offers the only “official” HelpSpot full service hosting where they take care of the installation, upgrades, etc. As HelpSpot sales have increased he’s finally getting more hosting customers and prospects from HelpSpot. Over the past few days we’ve been working a lot together and he just does a great job.

If you need hosting you should definitely check ValiantHost out and of course if you need HelpSpot (or FogBugz) hosting he’s a must to check out.


Obviously the guys over at 37 signals know what they’re doing, but I can’t help but think they’ve gotten a little off track lately. I mean I’m all for making a buck but perhaps they’re taking it a bit too far?

Today they released a new job board service for designers. You can find the details here:

SVN Job Board

So as far as I can tell they now have this wide variety of products:

  1. Job board
  2. eBooks
  3. Blog ad network
  4. Basecamp
  5. Backpack
  6. Writeboard
  7. TaDa List
  8. Campfire

Perhaps this is the first web 2.0 conglomerate?

site launch announcement

Well I wasn’t going to talk about this here yet, but it appears to be a better idea than even I thought! Today I launched a new site called, a forum for the help desk community.

This came about because of my own personal need to keep track of trends in the help desk world. In most semi-technical industries this can pretty easily be done by tracking blogs and forums. Over the past year I’ve found that this isn’t really the case for the help desk community. There are some good blogs out there, but not as many as you might think. As for forums, well there’s basically none.

A few of the of the help desk organizations have them but they’re unused. I believe because most are behind 2 layers of authorization. First a general membership login, then a forum system login. Beyond those it’s mostly limited to sub-forums of larger IT boards where the help desk topics are so buried as to be impossible to find.

So HelpDeskTalk was born. While I know there’s a need I’ve been surprised by the response I’ve gotten in just the few emails I sent around. In fact it’s already gotten several inbound links. One from Rob in the Salt Lake City HDI chapter and another from on of my favorite help desk bloggers, Mike McBride.

I’m also noting with everyone that this is a community effort and not a money making one. There’s no ads and I hope to keep it that way. I don’t see why I wouldn’t unless it gets popular enough to where it’s actually costing significant money to run, though even then I’d be inclined to just eat the cost or perhaps share with another organization.

The site is also a nice example of how darn flexible the HelpSpot portal templates are. It literally took about 5 CSS changes and a few images to set it up.

I know a lot of you may not be in the target audience for this type of site, but as always I’d love to hear your feedback if you have ideas for improvement. Things are light over there right now since I just flipped the switch so I’d also encourage you to add a post if you have a relevant topic.

Link love for the new site is also greatly appreciated 😉

nice emails

As an entrepreneur it’s really nice to get these emails:

“Hello –

I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your product! While our
company (
may be a small web hosting company, our customers support needs are
anything but small. HelpSpot has turned out to be an ideal solution for
providing technical support. Your product has enabled our small team to
streamline our support process, to more effectively communicate, and
ultimately to resolve issues in a more timely and professional manner.
Thank you! (And you can quote me on that!)


helpspot 120 is out

Whew! You may have noticed the cob webs around here lately. It’s entirely due to trying to get this new release out. This one is far and away the biggest release since HelpSpot launched. It’s a big weight off my shoulders to have it out there. Though I must admit I always find this first day very stressful. There’s this fear that I’ve missed something major and everyones data is going to get hosed and then they’ll come looking for me and beat me up with my own keyboard.

Beyond that though it will be good to be back. I plan on keeping things light over the next week or so. Just answering support and blogging a bit. It’s time for a bit of a reset.

If you’re interested you can find the release nots for 1.2 here:

It’s somewhat deceptive because some of the “major new features” are very major and could have entire pages to themselves, but I’m not a big fan of making release notes long just for the sake of being long.

sometimes its the simply features

I love when customers post to the HelpSpot forums because it leaves a great history for future customers to use in researching HelpSpot and in empowering them to find their own answers to problems. However, one thing has always driven me a bit nuts about forums in general. You never really know if the person received your response.

That’s why HelpSpot has the subscribe via email option, so customers don’t need to return to get their answer. Remember HelpSpot’s forums aren’t about getting the most traffic to your site, they’re 100% about providing great customer service. Until now though there’s been a big missing link. HelpSpot knows if the poster is subscribed to the topic via email but the staff doesn’t! Countless times I’ve answered a pressing issue in the forums and wondered if the customer received my response right away or not.

Well now I’ll know. The small golden email icon in the graphic below lets me know that the customer is subscribed to this topic via email.


new feature rules

HelpSpot 1.2.0 (out this week) has powerful new Rule features which really let you manage your installation. The first type of rules are mail rules, just like you’d have in your desktop mail client. Mail rules allow you to route mail, instantly respond to certain types of requests and more. The second type of rules I call Automation rules. These allow you to set conditions under which existing requests in your installation can be modified in some way. For instance, if it’s been over a day since a custom received an update you could notify your staff and/or notify the customer, you could escalate it to a senior staffer and much much more. Below I’ve included a short video of how the rules interface works. It’s a pretty nifty wizard type UI. If the UI works well it will also eventually be used in creating filters, but for now I wanted to limit it to the rules to see how it works.