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July 31, 2005

Killing the Year Old Bug

This afternoon, I finally saw why some customers would try to drag a task in a view to reorder it and MLP would up and die spectacularly. Just because the customer had turned on the "Custom To Do Order" option does not mean that the view's grid is sorted that way.

This bug has been lurking in MLP for well over the year. Each time I'd get a report, I'd go into MLP's code, try and find it with no luck.

Maybe it's my change of diet of late: more beef!

July 30, 2005

Clean is good

As I was cleaning out Sake's and Sammy's newish litter boxes after a day spent cleaning house and cleaning code, a couple of thoughts occured:
1. Whoever invented these litter boxes deserves the clever design award: Sake, who is 17, is quite pleased with being able to go up a little ramp to get into the box, not having to semi-jump over the side of traditional litter boxes.
2. Clean is good. In the Getting Things Done worldview, reducing clutter, both mental and physical is a Good Thing.
3. Improved design can reduce costs, improve productivity and cost nothing - whether you are a cat or a human!

July 27, 2005

Revisiting the cluetrain

Today I had occasion to re-read the cluetrain manifesto. If you happened to miss this gem, back in 1999, four Internet sages for lack of a better term decided to stir up some major trouble by nailing up on the web 95 theses.

The cluetrain's  main point - and this is a critical idea for micro-ISV's - is that the Internet makes a new type of relationship between businesses and people. Instead of the traditional whack you in the face with advertising approach, cluetrain predicts and advocates companies have real conversations with their customers.

Micro-ISV's don't have the money to do advertising; what we are really good at is talking with our customers and potential customers. If you run a micro-ISV, get on the cluetrain: you can read the book for free at http://www.cluetrain.com.

July 26, 2005

Getting things Done vs. Interruptions.

There’s a very good article about the high cost of interruptions over at New.com – definitely worth reading if you think that project management by interruption can work. It doesn’t!

Now that we are all Project Managers, overseeing and working on multiple objectives, Project A interrupts us when we are working on Project B, and so on down the line.

There's a dynamic tension between keeping focused on getting your Current List done, blocking out time to focus so you can do your best work on something that matters and dealing with interruptions.

One way to cope is to block out a section of the workday when you absolutely refuse to be interrupted - no emails, people, calls, tantalizing web sites.

What works for me is making Task Appointments (in MasterList Professional) when I need to get something important done interruption-free, with the rest of the day given over to working my Current List and interruptions such as tech support.

Give it a try!

July 25, 2005

Working your Current List

A small, but powerful, Getting Things Done, sort of suggestion: When fill your Current List in MasterList Professional and then print it, make a point of crossing off each task just as soon as it gets done.

Crossing off a completed task is like closing your car door: until you do, there is some part of you not yet ready to move forward.

Oh, and don’t forget to use the new Prioritizer tool to whip your Current List into shape: alligning tasks makes it easier to move through and past each one.

July 23, 2005

1.07 + 1 day

Only one bug – now fixed and incorporated in the current 1.07 update or full version in the first 24 hours since 1.07 was released.

Either everyone took off for the beach or things are looking up…

July 22, 2005

1.07 is up.

Well, 1.06 is up and should be detected by your installed MasterList Professional. One small thing: 1.06 is called 1.07.

As we go down the road, even releases will be to a small hardy band of beta testers, odd will be for general release.

Onward and upward!

Testing BlogJet

I have installed an interesting application - BlogJet. It's a cool Windows client for my blog tool (as well as for other tools). Get your copy here: http://blogjet.com

"Computers are useless. They can only give you answers." -- Pablo Picasso

July 21, 2005

1.06 out for testing...

A quick heads up: a dozen or so people are right now testing version 1.06; if all goes even close to well expect your MasterList Professional to detect 1.06's availability this weekend.

Thanks to all the people who have emailed me messages of encouragement - It's been a hard haul since 1.05 was released in March.

Now that I'm at this point, expect a slew of changes next week. I can hardly wait!

For starters, this blog will be getting a top to bottom makeover, and already has a second URL  pointing to it besides http://safarisoftware.typepad.com. The new URL: http://www.todoorelse.com/ I think its kind of catchy!

Thanks again, next week should be fun!

July 07, 2005

Micro-ISV Tip #4: Microsoft Office Marketplace.

If you use Excel, Word or Outlook, Office Online is the Microsoft’s mothership for Office customers, and Office Marketplace is a heavyweight free directory site for large companies to micro-ISVs whose products in some fashion relate to Microsoft Office. (URL: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/marketplace/default.aspx )

I had occasion last week to interview Jeanette Fisher, Business Development Manager, Microsoft Office Online, and she had some interesting information for micro-ISV to pass along.

How heavyweight? 50 million unique visitors a month to Office Online according to Fisher; with 2-3% of that going on to find “Microsoft Partner” software, training and services at Marketplace. The kicker is conversion rates: “We have one of the highest known conversion rates in the history of the Internet at our web site.” Fisher said.  “The average conversion rate for internet sales is around .2 %; we see conversion rates of between 1 % and 19 %”

When I look at my traffic logs, our listing at Marketplace is usually in the top 4 referrers.

What’s it take to get your micro-ISV software, web service or product listed for free at Marketplace? “The main criteria are whether or not it is relevant to the customer’s use of Office.” Fisher explained.

“For example, I had an application that came in today for an educational product, but there was nothing in the product or service that related to Office. The customer did not need Office to get this product running, and also there was nothing on their web site that said anything about how they integrate with Excel or Word. The email I sent back to this potential partner was, “I don’t see any relevance for the customer using Office at the same time as your product. That’s really what we are looking for.”

I asked Fisher if Marketplace plays favorites among its partners who list about 1,000 products at Marketplace: “Nope. It is a level playing field. We don’t give preferences – it’s really about free marketing for everybody. The promotion opportunities on the site – for example today there’s a wine cellar template being promoted – we change those every week, and some of the recommended downloads change daily. We try and do a constant rotation” she replied.

Fisher, whose been with Microsoft for 6 years comes from a usability design background had two other bits of advice for micro-ISVs: when potential customers get referred to you, have them arrive at a dedicated landing page; don’t make them hunt around for what they have already searched for. And, trial versions potential customers can try for a reasonable period are the way to go.

As for whether Microsoft looks at Marketplace as an easy way to harvest features to include in the next version of Office, Fisher said: “We try to be very up front with all of our partners, and all our potential partners. We clearly state that you providing this service to Office customers does not preclude Office someday from building a similar feature. And most of the time when that happens, at least in my experience in the last 6 years here, I can honestly say that I have never seen a partner offering being evaluated by the product team and see the product lead say ‘Oh, that’s a great idea. We should build that in directly.’”

So should micro-ISV whose products somehow relate to Office list at Marketplace? “Absolutely! Because if for no other reason its free marketing. And it’s free marketing across several different countries if they are willing to localize their jump pages. And its free marketing that has the potential of hitting 50 million customers on a monthly basis,” Fisher concluded.

A quick note for the suspicious/Microsoft-phobic: I’m a Microsoft-centric developer and computer user, but don’t work for them.

If you found this post to be useful, please let me know.

Changes, Changes

Quick update:
- MLP 1.06 is nearing completion, the new Prioritizer is already helping me get through multiple workloads a day better.
- Expect a slew of changes as of early next week in this blog, my web site and other matters.


  • Who?
    Bob Walsh, (Author, managing partner of Safari Software, Inc. a micro-ISV)
    Exploring the intersection between Getting Things Done and building a micro-ISV.
    Live from Sonoma, California USA.
    Once or so a workday.
    Because there's a way to get everything done, I just know there is!
    Micro Internet Software Vendor, a self-funded startup company: See mymicroisv.com for information and resources.


  • Micro-ISV: From Vision to Reality
    At Amazon.
    Buy as an ebook.
  • (begun Jan. 3, 2006)
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