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One of the most inspiring philosophies I’ve read in a long time, Nick Hanauer’s article on
pro-tax arguments from a venture capitalist (http://www.techflash.com/seattle/2010/11/nick-
hanauer.html) actually gave me another reason to be proud about being from Seattle! Here are
some stand-out quotes from Nick’s article:
It is your capacity to organize investments to create increasing returns that define your success
It is strategic, aggressive investment ...in things that create increasing returns that produce winners
if you are a low functioning contrarian you are in prison. And there is a very fine line.
rich people have a capacity to take a step backwards today for a big, big step forward in the longer-term.
I just finished my taxes before the extended deadline, with 35 minutes to spare! And thanks to E-file I did it from the comfort of my own home, avoiding the dreaded midnight post office line.
Author’s Note: Waiting until the last minute is not my usual style. However, this year the discontinuation of Microsoft Money Plus and subsequent switch-over to Quicken forced me to learn and use new tools. It also meant I had to re-match most of my transfer activity and manually enter six months of transactions from paper or PDF statements. The good news is, it inspired me to make BeeDesk better.
Over the years, our tax returns accumulate complexities like stock, options, retirement plans, Employee Stock Purchase Plans, job changes, moves, rentals, business investments, and vehicle expenses...just to name a few. Sometime we need to calculate the cost-basis of a stock sale; other times we’re missing the receipt for a tax-deductible business expense. The information we need to complete our taxes comes from a number of different sources and in a wide variety of forms.
Ultimately, tax filing frustration manifests as a record keeping problem. Better record keeping equals easier tax preparation.
Often we blame ourselves and just accept our shortcomings and lack of discipline. If only we had downloaded the bank statement every month. If only we had kept up the books for each stock trade (even better if we had documented the goal, the reason, and the condition under which we sold). If only we had noted the purpose on every paper receipt. If only we had checked the odometer at the start of every year...THEN a tax return would be a breeze.
The problem with blaming ourselves is that it doesn't make us more disciplined. J Our lives aren’t always routine, or organized, or planned. Sometime we just don't have a pen when our hands are full of tax-deductible home-office goodies at Home Depot. Other times we simply have more pressing issues at hand. In either case we consciously decide to pay for the discipline-debt later.
At BeeDesk we focus on what can be made better. We simplify all the little things that create the bigger problem. For example, we make it easier to track activities, add notes, and even defer tasks until you’ve handled your latest emergency. We make it possible for you to find and amend records later, and to do all this without writing anything down.
Tax filing is clearly an inspiring subject for BeeDesk’s problem solvers. By solving this problem we make tax time less frustrating and knowledge work more productive.
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Although it may not be evident to the world, the last six months have brought great progress in BeeDesk’s product line, marketing and investor relationships.
In products we’re on the edge of an end-to-end alpha for HTML 5 front end, iPhone look-and-feel, task tracking, calendar and contact integration, all on a RESTful architecture.
Our big marketing win was the production of a short demo video that will be published along with our invitation-only beta.
We also met some VCs in town. We appealed to, applied, and are a finalist with a popular seed funding program. Regardless of the result, that is a very strong validation!
We’ve decided to focus on the mobile space, where BeeDesk is a thought-leader in email search, tracking, and prioritization. We know we can and will provide a better email experience on these core tasks than desktop email clients currently do.
BeeDesk's mission is to maximize an individual productivity with the information one interacts with: making it reliably available whenever and wherever, and organizing and delivering it pertinently thru the best experience design.
It is interesting to see the “Apple” effect in the startup community. It makes every software startup think the first employee they should hire is a designer who can also “do some coding". It is true that it’s easier for a designer to learn to code than for a coder to learn design.
Apple's inspiration goes far beyond showing that "design matters". It shows that an existing market—even a commoditized one—can be readily seized,
If user expectations are lifted high enough, they don’t want to go back to other alternatives. They want to pay for the new, cool thing. The key point here is that people don’t want to look back or go backward. I can think of a few examples…
I never thought I would pay more than $90 a month for a mobile phone. But, I don’t want to go back to my old “free” phone even if it is $65 cheaper per month.
Motivation: Strongest. It makes me feel happy about paying a higher price.
I use Windows 7. I don’t want to go back to Vista or XP.
Motivation: Medium, Cost can be justified and it’s a relatively painless transition.
I have tried Outlook 2010 beta. Now I don’t want to go back to Outlook 2007.
Motivation: Medium. Paying the business version price is painful but the upgrades are probably worth it.
When 42” LCD televisions were selling for $3,000 I never planned to buy one. I now have a 52” LCD television in my living room and I don’t ever want to buy a smaller one again.
Motivation: High to medium, I paid $500 for my last television. I paid more than $1,700 for the new one less than two years ago.
Motivation: Medium to high, I don’t want to go back to DVD even if DVD players do only cost only $25 now.
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I have pondered this question many times, but the purpose of this blog entry is not to answer it.
I really just want to remind myself that, in the software world, sometimes the little things are what catch on fire, especially when they are added together.
Long before Twitter was well known, many people were “micro-blogging” with Blogger, Word press, and other such tools—blogging ten times a day, often with just a line and a link. Small blogs have always been possible, so being “micro” can’t be the sole reason Twitter took off.
Limiting the length of an entry does add a level of convenience that wasn't there before, such as allowing SMS tweets. The expectation of spell check or rich text formatting was also removed.
I believe being able to follow everything of interest to you is what made it catch fire.
On the down side, Twitter lacks an RSS feed, topping information overload with even more information overload. Advanced search capacities were lost when Google added reasonable search on RSS,
On the up side…
- You don't need to copy and paste links.
- You don't need to log in to your RSS reader.
- You don't need to second guess the atom.xml URL of the page you're reading.
- You don't need to have an RSS reader at all.
- You don't need to wait for Google to index the page for you; you only need #topic search.
I wonder if Blogger had let you "follow", would Twitter be heard of at all?
I don't know the answer, but I do hold on to Twitter as an example, to remind myself never to underestimate the power of helping users on their daily chores. Rather we will save them from:
- Logging in to other sites.
- Copying and pasting.
- Switching back and forth between applications and windows
- Unnecessary clicks (more true than it used to be due to mobile usage, etc.)
This is where we will make great advances—for new information sources like tweets, and for old ones like email and documents.
One benefit of working with a big company is seeing new technology coming down the pipeline. The frustrating part is watching it take so long to get to market. By the time it’s released you’re no longer excited.
Sometimes big companies can get products to marketing in a year. But big releases are usually 1.5 to 3 years in development. For something as essential as email this can be painful.
From a project management perspective, when BeeDesk sees daylight, you’ll be seeing new features every three months.
The technical side is no less important; therefore, we strive for “serviceable” design. When users really need something, a customization can hold them over until the full implementation arrives.
With scripts you factor out those "serviceable" parts and make it easily replaceable (by allowing an import, and call-out to those empty methods).
With OO using SPI architecture, your Service code defines Providers for each aspect of the system that can adapt or override. Then you define a "parent" Provider that can be used to override almost the entire service.
To recap the Introduction:
- Even when you have access to a laptop, smart phone, and the Internet, you still have limited access to your personal information.
- You cannot easily or efficiently keep track of all channels through which important messages can reach you.
- Some messages are more important than others, but again you cannot easily determine this.
BeeDesk is in a position to help you solve three problems by:
- Becoming a single source for all of your personal information (private or shared), including online/offline documents and other communication types.
- Making all of your information discoverable in a universal way.
- Prioritizing how your data reaches you.
BeeDesk, however, does not own your data. You still use your favorite applications to create or edit them—BeeDesk is an aggregator.