Archive for May 2007

More about elevators 03 May

Elevators, actually, are a great usability subject, because so many people are familiar with them, and they seem like they should be so simple, but pitfalls are everywhere.

I couldn't resist telling you the second usability bug with those elevators where you select a floor before getting on. People who work in buildings with the new elevators but live in buildings with traditional elevators report that when they get home at night, they sometimes get into the elevator and then just stand there, expecting the elevator to know their floor already.

And one more story. Doug wrote in to say:

“A number of years ago a programmer friend of mine worked for a company that was brought in to optimize the elevators in a San Fran hotel. After doing their due diligence/study, they had the hotel install mirrors in the hallway where the elevators were. By the time the visitors were done preening, the elevator had arrived. Human engineering at its finest.”

New software for discussion groups 03 May

As you may know already, the four main discussion groups on this site (Joel on SoftwareBusiness of Software, Design of Software, and .NET Questions) are implemented with FogBugz, my company's flagship project management system. The current shipping version of FogBugz is 5.0, but we've been developing 6.0 for a while now and want to do some testing of it under heavy load.

So, if you head on over to the discussion groups, what you'll see is actually running an early, unreleased pre-alpha version of FogBugz 6.0. For now, you won't notice any significant changes except for a slightly different font that matches the rest of FogBugz 6.0. Next week, if all goes well, we'll turn on a new feature which lets you register for an account so you can get one of those green checkboxes that appears in the discussion group next to the names of people who are logged on to FogBugz. At some point, if all goes really well, we'll try to turn on another new feature that makes FogBugz keep track of which posts you've already seen (as long as you're logged on) and show them in a different color... this is a feature we used to rely on the browser to do. This is one of the scarier features since it's kind of data-intensive for very large numbers of users. Which is why we're using you as guinea pigs before we inflict it on our beta testers.

Edinburgh reception 07 May

Drinks in Edinburgh (May 19) will be at the Radisson SAS hotel, in the St. Giles room. It will easily accommodate us all so don't hesitate to sign up if you can make it (but please do remove your name if you can't).

Fix your mom's computer for mother's day 08 May

This Sunday is Mother's Day. Why not fix your mom's computer?

You know: remove the spyware and adware, install Firefox, and make it so that weird toolbar toast doesn't pop up every 15 seconds.

To make it easy, this Sunday we're making Fog Creek Copilot absolutely free.

No strings attached. Just go to https://www.copilot.com on Sunday, get a free pass, and we'll email your mom a link she can click on to download the helper application. It's really easy.

P.S. Same deal applies for Father's Day, June 17.

Registered users on the discussion groups 09 May

Very small new feature. You can now sign up for an account over on the discussion groups. When you're logged on, a little green checkbox appears next to your name. You can also star favorite articles and return to them quickly later.

The software running the discussion groups is our in-house, under-development, unannounced version of FogBugz 6, which will be going to beta later this summer, and we're rolling it out now as a part of our continuing efforts to eat our own dogfood.

FAQ!

Q: Is this required? Do I need an account to post?

A: Not at this point. Totally optional.

Q: Is it free?

A: Yes.

Q: Do I have to identify myself?

A: You have to provide a real email address where you can receive email. Use mailinator if this bothers you.

Q: Who's the kiwi!

A: SHHHHHHH!! TOP SECRET! do NOT talk about the kiwi.

Typical Econ 101 management 10 May

Consumerist: “A Best Buy employee emailed us on April 4, 2007 to confess to the type of behavior mentioned in the lawsuit. He claims that techniques for tricking customer into signing up for subscriptions (such as MSN) were taught to him by a manager and encouraged by Best Buy.”

Virtually all American consumer electronics chains, national ISPs, telephone companies, credit card companies, and cable companies use Econ 101 management. Instead of having smart people figure out how to train their frontline customer service workers to serve customers well and profitably, they make up metrics that sound good and let the low wage, high-turnover customer service people come up with their own systems, which, inevitably, involve scamming customers and ripping them off.

Happy Mother's Day! 12 May

And remember, Copilot is free today, so here's your chance to switch your mom over to Firefox and install all the latest patches.

Travels 14 May

I'm heading off to the airport to go to Web.Start in Croatia.

Branimir Dolicki, who distributes FogBugz in German-speaking countries, has lived in Zagreb, and was kind enough to make a Google map suggesting some nice places to visit while I'm there.

On the way home, I'll briefly stop in Edinburgh to meet some readers and make amends for trying to annex Scotland to England. I've been reassured by the hotel that I only have to buy the first round, and there'll be a cash bar thereafter.

Big company life 25 May

From a Meetup recruiting page: “At Google, you get your free Google-approved haircut at the Googleplex by a Googler with an IQ in the 99% percentile of all haircutters. The average Googler Haircutter has over 45 RSS feeds in their Google Reader. The walls are very clean, and you will not need to interact with non-Googlers.”

Cobranding Copilot 25 May

New feature: subscribers to Fog Creek Copilot can now cobrand Copilot with their own logo to provide seamless tech support to their clients.

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