Monday, February 27, 2006

People do not read the manual.

I seemed to be under the impression that maybe our customers were different. Sure, I don't read manuals, but someone must right? At a minimum for a reference? So when we put together the packaging for ChimSoft, the manual received high importance. Every page was protected by laminate (Chimney Sweeps get dirty) so it could be brought on to the job site. People ooh and aah'ed at the manuals when they see them in person. They liked how easily it explained things. Mission accomplished.

Or not. Most of the tech support calls we've received so far have involved issues that were covered in the manual. And I realized it's because manuals are one of those things that everyone means to take the time to read, but never get around too (including myself). Our goal was to make the easiest product for our customers to use, so if they can't figure something out, the way to figure this out should be straight forward. So we've started a new training site. Every feature of our software from the most basic to the most complex will be shown and explained using Wink videos.

In other news we released version 1.1 today, our first big update release. Most of the feedback that went into this release was gathered at the convention we attended in January. Now it's really crunch time to get all of the serious features implemented for the national convention at the end of March.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

What's it Written In?

One question we've been asked by a surprisingly large amount of our customers (Chimney Sweeps) is "What is this written in?". When I say, well "C# and Visual Basic .NET", they wonder if that is like Access. A surpringly large amount of sweeps have tried to write something similar in Access. One guy wrote one for DOS way back. I think that gives you a good idea about the Do-It-Yourself attitude Chimney Sweeps have. I've never been asked this question so often in other projects. Anyone else get this much?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Just found a neat site the other day: Zillow that uses a lot of "Web 2.0" tech to give you your house's value. It's pretty accurate (maybe off by about 5 months). Also gives you all kinds of details like how many acres, bathrooms etc... It's somewhat scary how much detail you can get about a persons life now on the internet. Given just a name and city, I can usually find a picture of your house, how much you paid for it, and when you added that new bathroom thanks to the internet. For example, here is Super Bowl winning coach Bill Cowhers house.

I'm not sure quite that much information needs to be made public, and is why when we created SearTech, we thought very carefully about our privacy policy. We never collect any data without telling the customer exactly what we are doing, and we would never release our contact information to a third party. I would rather risk a few pirated copies of our software then collect information without the person's knowledge.