Monday, July 18, 2011

I'll take Triangles over Circles anyday

I've been inundated over the past few weeks with emails, DM's and messsages.  "Hey, is Google+ like SMAK".  Yes, Google+ has some very similar features of SMAK, and we are pretty disappointed we were not out of private Alpha so that people could compare the two.  What can I say...   well, here is what I can say.  Here are just a few reasons why we didn't release:

Security and Privacy - Google+ launched and quickly realized that people didn't like it when you stuck 20 of your connections in the "Annoying" circle.  So, of course they shutdown log-ins and scrambled for a fix.
Usability - The most popular question on Google+ so far is "why am I here?" followed by "where is everybody?".
Intelligence -  So far Google+ makes a lot recommendations of people you should connect with.  Too bad you don't know any of them.  Really, do you need to be managing 500 new avatars?
CASH  & Klout -  Google has a lot of both.  They can afford to make mistakes.

So the long and short is, hang with us!  We are working hard to bring you a solution that will work not only with Google+, but all of your already invested relationship networks.  We don't you wasting time, being frustrated or feeling exposed by a new tool.   Your security, ssage and already established network is our biggest focus.  And unlike Google, we can't afford to make a mistake.

Well, if for nothing else Google+ validated that we like to drag and drop our friends avatars around.  It sort of makes us feel like puppet masters.

I really do like some of the features.  I just see it making my life even more complicated, and yet another channel to check.

How do you feel about it?  Would love to hear your comments.

PS: don't forget to register for SMAK

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

User failure - it can't just be me

I'm really not trying to be a complicated guy.  While I carry a lot on my plate (CEO of a startup, On the board of Co.'s, father of 4, co-host of wildly successful podcast, avid volunteer and church leader,..)  OK, I bit off more than I can chew...   I'm a soon to be 39yr old Generation X over-achiever, what can I say.    I really thought I could do more with technology.  I believed the hype that I could have it all, an engaged and endearing family, a loyal and supportive staff, an enriched and enlightened media following... yeah FAT CHANCE.  The reality is most of the time I just have a bunch of people waiting for me to show up... physically or mentaly.

While I'm partly to blame, technology has some accountability in this mess.  There is one hype I've encountered and I hope revealing it here will spare you from the same:

Apple Hype - Advanced mobile technology makes it easier to stay informed.
This is a joke...  Here is just one small example.  I used to listen to podcasts by downloading them on to my $50 Sansa MP3 player.  Taking 10 minutes at the beginning of the week I would judiciously read show notes and determine which are downloaded.  (list of the podcasts I listen to below)

So not wanting to spend this 10 minutes, I spent $800 on a fancy iPad since I had already configured iTunes to download my shows automatically.    My hope of setting up a scheduled set of podcast downloads on my mac that would sync to my iPad has turned out to be a big ha ha on me.
1) iTunes podcasts  on  your mac don't sync automatically with your iPad.  (yup, that's a period right there)
2) iPad does not give you a sort order a playlist schedule.  Like everone who listens to industry related podcasts you want to listen in date order from oldest to current.  No such capability on iPad.
3) Can not automatically remove pdocasts... so the list grows and fills your disk up. (I'm sure this was on puposed)

Now I end up spending at least an hour of my time a week downloading and clearing podcasts, switching and sorting them, creating temporary play lists... I listen and learn less and waste more time, total and utter FAILURE on Apples part..

How in the world did  Apple product managers not see this gaping whole in their product design and usability?  Oh wait!  They did... it was a major flaw on the iPod.   Yet, with all the user feedback and frustration, they release it to the iPad

So moral of the story:  listen to your customer and respond.  If the product fa
ils, the user expereince is bad, I don't care how cool the window looks when I can't do simple functions.

My podcast list:
(ITSM weekly podcasts (US, ROW and Antipodean), This week in Tech (TWIT, TNT, & The Social Hour) & The next web daily