Product & Startup Builder

Filtering by Category: "beta"

Announcement: Particls Private Beta released

Added on by Chris Saad.
Hi everyone,

We would like to announce that the first full private release of Particls Beta has been distributed. If you signed up to our mailing list your invite should be in your inbox.

All those months of locking Ashley in the programming box have paid off!

On behalf of all the team I would like to thank all the people who have made this milestone possible. You all know who you are but if I may highlight a few below (in no particular order!):
  • Ashley Angell
  • Nik Seirlis
  • Stephen Kelly
  • Cody Robb
  • Paul Jones
  • Michael McNeil
  • Michael Starky
  • Julie Angell
  • Marty Wells
  • Michael Liubinskas
  • Marjolein Hoekstra
  • Ben Metcalfe
  • Daniela Barbosa
  • Marianne Richmond
  • The Alpha and Beta testers of Touchstone and Particls
Thanks everyone

We look forward to your feedback.

Missed out? Drop me a line and the next 50 requests get an instant invite.

Update: The 50 Slots have been filled. But keep paying attention.

Touchstone has a new website - check it out!

Added on by Chris Saad.
Hey guys - for those of you checking out the blog via RSS - you might want to click through to where you might notice a little change. Ok I am understating it - it's a big change.

Send your feedback - you know we love it.

Thanks to everyone who helped refine the design including Julie, Marjolein, Marianne, Marty, Ben, Blaze, Ashley, Steve and Sofia.

Update: Paul also helped, but he mainly just laughed at the bad ones.

Mojo, Magic, That certain something

Added on by Chris Saad.
As we inch closer to Beta it gets easier and easier to start stressing out. "Have we made the right choices?", "Will people understand what we were trying to do?", "Did we achieve what we set out to achieve?", "Will people like it?".

We would, of course, never be susceptible to such self-doubt - because, you know, we're so good.

The real indefinable question to me is how do you communicate the fire inside to people who don't know you from a bar of soap. How do you show them that big vision over there, without overwhelming them.

Maybe you don't. Maybe it somehow comes through in your work and the product speaks for itself.

Tara has a great post about what Mojo. That certain something that makes a product and a company great. It's something you feel in your bones that is beyond words or any single element of design or execution.

She lists some things one could do to tease out their mojo. I think, however, you can't fake Mojo - you either have real passion for what you're doing or you don't.

Here is Tara's list:
  1. Have a higher purpose. I know I’ve said this before, but it’s essential to mojo to believe in something beyond your own needs.
  2. Don’t be a commodity. Commodities don’t have mojo, they compete on price, efficiency and speed. Mojo is terribly inefficient. (I’m planning to write more on commodity vs. craft again soon)
  3. Work as a team. If your employees aren’t feelin’ it, your customers won’t either. Treat your employees as members of a team. Reward passion.
  4. Be part of the customer community you are serving. Use your own product, interact, use competitive products, work to further the industry you are in.
  5. Operate on passion, not ambition. Ambition is great for making barrels of money on undercutting and destroying your competition, climbing to the top of the corporate ladder, etc. It ain’t mojo.
  6. Give a damn. This is kind of tied to everything else, but people with mojo never have to have “because it’s the better thing to do” explained to them.
    Commit to excellence. Obsess over details. Experience. Be bothered by one customer’s bad experience. Work hard to do better.
  7. Get slow. Ever notice how people with mojo never seem to be rushed or distressed? They seem reflective, introspective, they take their time. Think slow food, slow marketing, etc.
  8. Believe in your gut. Stop thinking 100% with your head. Fritz Lang once said, “The mediator between head and hands must be the heart!” We really don’t value it enough in the world of business. I suppose heart isn’t as profitable…but I’m not advocating maximum profitability here…

I do hope that the Touchstone Beta speaks for itself and that our Mojo shines through. If not however, I think I can count on a few friends (you guys and girls reading this) to help clarify things until we sort out the glitches!

Paying attention to broken windows

Added on by Chris Saad.
As we have alluded to over the last few weeks, we are now working on what will become the first Beta build of Touchstone. So as we start to tie up loose ends, work on optimization and generally focus in on the little details it's great to come across posts like solving big problems by paying attention to the small things from Matt of 37Signals.

It's true that by polishing off what is already there and making it painless, easy and even glossy - the application truly feels more stable, pleasurable and intuitive.

Too much noise for 37signals

Added on by Chris Saad.
Matt from 37Signals (I'm a big fan) asks if there is any way to tame the RSS beast. These posts always make me smile. As do the responses/comments.

A lot of people almost get it, but never really provide a complete answer.

To date our answers (and the answers of others in the Attention space) have been fairly academic - over the next few months as we head into Beta - you will start to see some simple, practical solutions. Solutions that might make 37signals (and their cult of the simple) proud.

Messy is the new clean

Added on by Chris Saad.
I have long held a strong personal dislike of MySpace. I don't think they really care though - it's not targeted at me - it's targeted at a totally different demographic.

That won't stop me airing my grievances though.

One of the main reasons I dislike it is how messy it is. How utterly useless the user interface is and how much worse the users make it with their colors and backgrounds and embedded music tracks. It drives me crazy whenever I find myself accidently stumbling onto a MySpace page.

I have always been a fan of clean lines. In fact, I have just been working on the secret, yet-to-be-revealed, Touchstone user interface that will be revealed with the all new Touchstone Beta and it is all about clean, simple lines.

Over on BubbleGeneration however, he explains that clean lines are just old fashioned. They are part of the 20th century's Modernism movement. To quote:

Re-engineering was about streamlining: about cutting the fat; about removing "resistance" and "drag" created by superfluous processes, whose near term returns were non-existent.

The result, as we all know too well today, is a commercial landscape both bleak and bland: homogeneous, robotic, synthetic, and hyperrationalized, where the Barista's or burger-flipper's value is timed, measured, studied, and analyzed to death.

He uses mySpace as the prime example. He states that mySpace beats LinkedIn as a real social platform because, unlike LinkedIn, mySpace allows its users to get messy - to hack up the page and distroy any trace of consistency.

Touchstone, of course, is very different from MySpace or LinkedIn. The primary setup/status windows are not about personalization, self-expression or social networking. So we can get away with clean, simple lines. That's what I tell myself anyway. I don't want to make a messy interface that people can hack up. I want it to be clean and slick.

I take comfort in the fact that Skype seems to have the same philosophy and they aren't doing too badly.

Am I the only one who thinks that MySpace chaos and CraigsList's complete disregard for aesthetic quality is disturbing and concerning? Someone save me...

Update: Daniela suggests to me on Skype that perhaps I don't like MySpace because Murdoch bought it just to drive traffic to his Fox TV sites.

This is probably a topic for another post but I don't mind that Murdoch, being an old school media guy, recognized (in some small way) the volume of traffic that MySpace could generate and purchased it to keep his media company relevant. I do, however, have a problem with the fact that the platform itself didn't necessarily deserve the popularity it received/receives (for reasons mentioned above and many others) and the fact that people like Murdoch, in general, don't understand the real power of social platforms beyond the old 'eyeballs to monetize' paradigm.