Monthly Archives: January 2007

Confusing Names!

I’ve written posts about naming products before and I gotta say, it’s a tough job. You search and search for just the right name, think you’ve found something really cool, and then…well then you usually realize it’s taken…so you search and search for ANOTHER name, think it’s really cool, go with it and find out later that it confuses the heck out of everyone!

A great example (and my current naming challenge) are our Professional Editions. Our Professional Editions are just a bundle that includes the product for a PDA AND Desktop for one price. Unfortunately people constantly get the impression that there is some sort of feature difference. Maybe the “Professional” version has more bells and whistles? Better encryption?

Unfortunately I can’t blame them. Often a “Professional” version of something IS a version with a number of different features not present in the “standard” edition. Well, it’s time to clear things up.

We’re getting ready to select a new name for our Professional editions bundles. So far we aren’t happy with the results. The biggest problem is the names just end up really long. Then it struck me…just ask the world! Someone is bound to have a great solution to this problem. So anyone have any ideas, insights, or comments?

Getting the Word Out

wallet120.jpgOne of the toughest things to do as a (relatively) small software developer is to get the word out about your product. We don’t have a multi-million dollar ad budget or a marketing department filled with people thinking up clever new ways to let people know how badly they need our software. At the same time we have some great products that people get really hooked on once they start using them.

Eric Sink, a person in our industry who I have a ton of respect for, wrote a blog post today about a near disaster with his laptop. It no longer recognized his fingerprint and he couldn’t remember the ultra secure password he’d selected for it! I read articles like this one quite often and all I can think is “We have the solution! Why doesn’t everyone know about it??”

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New InScribe Keyboard Layouts!

InScribe IconWe just posted a brand new keyboard layout pack for InScribe! This new pack includes eight layouts including Cloemak, Dvorak, Hcesar, Maltron, Plum, Qwerf, Quicktype, and Staggered. The layouts are self installing. All you need to do is download the pack here and when you run the installer it will automatically install the layouts for you. I want to extend special thanks to the folks at Plum for giving us permission to distribute a copy of their great layout.

In addition we’ve also posted a pack that includes all the default layouts. If you really botch up the defaults while customizing, running this installer will replace them with the original layout formats.

UMPC: The Missing Link

UMPC2.jpgMichael Mace wrote a fantastic article about the mobile computing market. If you haven’t read it, you really need to read the entire article. I think he is on the money with his analysis and I quite literally could not have said it better.


The one thing he said that I disagree with is:

“Information manager [device] innovation has basically ground to a halt, and the users in this space are very frustrated.”

I agree that the users are frustrated. I don’t agree that innovation has ground to a halt. In fact, the information manager’s dream device is already out there.


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Voice Reminders

VoiceMinderLogo.gifI’ve always liked using the Record/Notes option on my Pocket PC to remind myself of something when it’s not handy to type a note — this is especially useful when driving, I just press and hold the Record button and my reminder is saved as an audio file, accessible from the built-in Notes application. The problem is, I often forget to look and see what reminders I’ve saved — D’oh!

Our friends over at WebIS have a nice solution for this: VoiceMinder. VoiceMinder automatically sends the audio note to my email where I’m sure to see it.

If you keep track of tasks via email, then check out VoiceMinder.

2007 Windows Mobile Partner Summit

Windows MobileJust returned from attending the two day Windows Mobile Partner Summit held in the Seattle area. The summit included OEM, Mobile Operator, and key strategic partners to discuss what’s coming down the road from the Windows Mobile team. We’re under a NDA so I can’t say much about the meeting right now, but I can say that I very much liked what I saw. Stay tuned for more details as we’re allowed to release them. A big thank you to the Windows Mobile Partner team for putting on the event and sharing future plans with us.

My Toaster Won’t Make Cookies!!

toaster.jpgWith every release of new technology a million so-called experts jump up and start shouting about all the things that are wrong with it. I’m as supportive of critical analysis as the next guy, but I’m also a strong proponent of “appropriate analysis.” Too often people attack new technology from the wrong direction. The iPhone and the UMPC are two great examples of this…

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Identifying Installation Files

File Properties

When I bought my newest PC, I started keeping my program installation files. I do this because I don’t necessarily want to upgrade if I need to reinstall something – this isn’t a cost issue; I’ve just learned that if I’m happy with a program version, I’m not necessarily happier with a new version (as is probably obvious by the fact that I’m still using the “classic” Windows interface, above).

But I’m not quite disciplined enough to remember to erase the installations when I decide not to keep a program, so I’ve got quite a collection at this point. And as a result of some PC problems over the weekend, I ended up trying to clean out the folder where I save them.

I’d never given much thought to the program properties of the installation files we make – I know that checking them for correct descriptions, version numbers and digital signatures is a part of our QA process, but pretty much had that in the “necessary evil” thought pile, or maybe even the “unnecessary overhead” one. But trying to figure out what installation files went with what programs on my PC made clear to me the value of that info. I didn’t have that many installation files that I wasn’t able to identify without running them, but the ones I had were pretty irritating (and I wasn’t in the best mood to start, given that my PC wasn’t booting well, or writing CDs).

Anyway, it’s nice to see that following the rules does have a point, at least once in a while.

Random iPhone Thoughts

iphone.jpgEverybody’s thinking and writing about the iPhone, so here’s my 2 cents worth ….

As a consumer – I never bought an iPod because my 2 top requirements for an mp3 player are that I can use it with gloves on (this is Michigan, and I walk to work), and that I can easily replace the battery (I may not have been born with a battery curse, but I’ve definitely picked one up somewhere, batteries tend to die when I’m nearby). The iPod doesn’t let me do either of those, and I doubt the iPhone will either.

As a developer – there’s not a definite statement that the iPhone won’t allow third-party apps, but that’s the way it looks. Too bad for us, if it’s true.

As a market watcher – Microsoft imitates a lot of Apple’s successes, but I can’t see them ever adopting the “closed to third-party apps” approach. Michael Mace wrote about the consumer vs. professional audience, and I think he’s called that exactly right. In fact, I think he’s written the best commentary on the whole thing, and anyone who’s interested in the iPhone and hasn’t read that yet should do so.