For Christmas the brother-in-laws on Tammy’s side pick names. There are only four of us but we like the simplicity of just getting one name to pick better. For a couple of years now we’ve used a website called DrawNames.com to handle the name drawing, sending emails and even handling exclusions so you don’t get the same person every year. They sent an email asking for feedback and I felt like sharing some thoughts with them and decided I should share them publicly too.
I like your service a lot and if I had more name drawing groups at Christmas I would use it for sure. I’ve suggested your service to others and I know that at least some of them have used it. Everything went very smooth and I think you have the right email confirmations in place to make sure you don’t get “busted” email picks in spam folders.
With that said, I have a concern that your service makes enough revenue to be around. My alternative to using your service is to write a small script that will pick names and send emails. It would be ugly. Probably break a lot. Would likely not get delievered right. I’d rather use your service! I see that I can keep a wishlist and I’m sure that generates affiliate revenue, but I’m not sure many people do that. I know we don’t.
I would rather just pay a small fee for each name drawing group that I have. Maybe a $1? $2? I’m not sure what the right amount is, but I have a hard time seeing how you would make $1 off of our group now, so at least for us that would be an increase.
While I have your ear let me also thank you for not littering the site with link ads. Thank you for not requiring the use of Facebook connect or login with Twitter stuff.
That’s it. The service is nice and works really well. Just charge me something. :-)
My hope is that they have thought about charging before but assume that nobody would pay. It’s the Internet right? Nobody pays. But they do. They pay in droves for the right thing. This website is worth as much to me as many iOS apps I’ve bought for $0.99. Maybe if they hear customers saying they would pay, they can see the path to something that pays the bills and is worth keeping around clarify a bit.
Our remodeling project is scheduled for 12 weeks. I’m very familiar with project execution, that is a big part of what I do for a living. Watching the progress of our remodel I’ve been thinking about real versus perceived project progress. The chart below reflects the relationship.
When we build software there is a decent amount of time getting groundwork put in. You have to get the build process working right, get your integration tests working, get version control working the way you want it. You probably need to use some framework code. It is a lot of stuff that doesn’t really feel like progress to a non-technical person.
Then you start framing out the software. Big swaths go in place, but mostly just stubs. Everything looks like it is coming together really fast, but it is largely a façade. Things are just in place to make sure it all comes together right.
At the end, it feels like the thing is so close to done but it just keeps dragging on. The edge cases have to be handled, error handling needs improvement. You need to log things. Not to mention that final design of the visual elements. This is where people get frustrated.
I fully expect the same thing to happen with this remodel. It seemed like a long time to get the structural stuff rolling. This week it seemed like a lot started to happen, and with the framing right around the corner it will feel like we are almost there. Then, things will take a very long time to get the light switches all wired up right and all the final punch list items completed.
While I ride the Perceived Progress line I’m going to try to keep a good grounding on the Actual Progress line. It is the only one that matters after all.
A while back we were traveling and I noticed that this coffee shop, Kavarna, didn’t just have its name in its WiFi network as most do. They smartly were telling anyone that could see the WiFi signal to come on in and use the network.
Smart. More places should do this. How about “Free Refills” in your WiFi network name?
Like Mint, but for small business. Very smart.
Earlier this week Split Rock Partners did a press release regarding my entrepreneur in residence (EIR) with the firm. The first question friends of mine have asked is “What exactly is an entrepreneur in residence?” Wikipedia highlights an EIR as:
The EIR role is often designed to fill one of three primary functions:
- To launch a new entrepreneurial venture, often with the backing of the parent firm or organization;
- To assist in the evaluation of potential investments where the entrepreneur has a particular expertise; or
- To provide functional expertise to assist with an existing investment.
That is a great recap of what I will be doing with Split Rock. The partners have given me a place to office and the opportunity to get and give early feedback around potential business ventures.
A couple of other items about EIR roles. There are other “in residence” programs. For example, artist in residence seems to be a fairly well established. I’ve also seen writer in residence as well as journalist in residence pop up. Lastly, just to be clear, the EIR role is a partnership. I’m not an employee at the firm, and this isn’t a “job”. It is a formal collaboration and a vehicle for us to work together.
I am excited to work with the partners at Split Rock and will make the most of such a unique opportunity!
I’m very late in sharing this news. Starting at the beginning of this year I was asked to join the board of directors at CaringBridge. I’ve been hoping to find a non-profit that fit well with my background, and CaringBridge was perfect. I’ve been very impressed learning more about CaringBridge and the amazing and wonderful relationships that they enable.
Unfamiliar with CaringBridge?
CaringBridge® offers free, personalized websites that allow people to stay in touch with family and friends during a health crisis, treatment and recovery. The goal of the service is to ease the burden of keeping friends and family updated, while also providing a way for them to send their love, support and encouragement.
I’ve found that an amazing number of my friends have used CaringBridge in one way or another. They have done amazing work thus far and I’m hoping I can help continue that! If you have a CaringBridge story or comment I’d love to hear it!
We recently converted my home office to hardwood flooring from carpet. Doing this required that the room be emptied, including a big filing cabinet. I decided it was time to do a filter through that filing cabinet and found some fun things from a many years ago. One of those items was the BigCharts Partnership Portfolio from 1997-1998. This was a printed, high-gloss, portfolio item that we shared with clients so they could see how people were using the products. It’s pretty fun to see all these screen shots of sites (many of which are long gone now) from a decade ago. I scanned a copy so others could enjoy. Watch out though, it’s a big PDF.
BigCharts Partnership Portfolio 1997 (PDF, 102.7MB)
Some highlights that gave me a chuckle:
- All the screenshots are so narrow. We all had little, tiny monitors.
- BigCharts Canada, FTW!
- Virtual Stock Exchange ended up being bought by MarketWatch, who bought BigCharts.
- Note the error on the Schwab image (page 10) where the URL is “datek.com”. :-)
I got the exciting news a couple of weeks ago that I was selected to be one of the recipients of the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal‘s 40 Under Forty awards. The process to be selected involves a nomination process. The editors receive letters from people and then sift through those to figure out who to pick. My sincerest thanks to Dan Grigsby who threw my name into the ring first, as well as everyone else who suggested me for this award. Lastly, thanks to John Riedl for taking the great quotes. Thank you!
The Business Journal has been doing this award for at least 11 years now (2006 Winners, 2007 Winners). Dan Grigsby is also a winner this year. Looking in the past years I see Andrew Eklund of Ciceron. Going all the way back to 1999 shows my friend and founder of BigCharts, Philip Hotchkiss. It’s great to join such company.
This is a great way to cap off the last decade as I transition into the next chapter. A cherry on the top if you will.
There is a dinner tonight at the Minneapolis Club for this event. Looking forward to meeting everyone else!
Last night was my absolutely amazing farewell party at the Bernard’s house. The gang put together this awesome going away video for me. It’s just great. Thank you so much everyone. Who would have ever thought reading Twitters could be so funny! There is an amazing, completely unexpected and inexplicable cameo at the end. But don’t skip to it! Sit back and enjoy…
[vimeo width="540" height="314"]http://www.vimeo.com/997715[/vimeo]
That is just great. I’m speechless. :-)
As I get ready to leave Dow Jones I’ve been working to get my home office setup more streamlined for work. I think I’ve succeeded, and am in store for a big upgrade actually! Here is my current workstation at the office, where I spend most of my computer time.
And this is what I’ll be using at home.
Yeah, that will work. :-)