It isn’t hard to see example of “Apple-bashing” in the press these days: just take a look at Bloomberg’s website where the top headline in its Personal Finance section, for the past three days running, is entitled “Harvard Liquidates Apple Stake After IPhone Sales Lose Steam”.
If you read past the headline, the second paragraph lays it all out in devastating detail: Harvard has sold a grand total of $304,000 in Apple shares (about 571 shares at a price of $573), which represents 0.03% of its equity portfolio (and about 0.1% of its total endowment).
Of all the many shortcomings of Apple’s Maps program, the one that we find most baffling is that it doesn’t seem to use GPS for its most basic function: looking up an address.
Here’s an example: we make an appointment in our (Apple-made) Calendar program on our (Apple-made) iPhone, that references the local office of one our users.
In King County, Washington, every address is based upon a giant coordinate system, so it isn’t really necessary to specify the city of an address. The “NE” in the street name refers to “North East”, not Nebraska, and no one in King County would ever think of looking up a street address by first considering Nebraska as a possibility. And, yet, that’s precisely what Apple’s Maps program suggest: rather than using the GPS that’s built into every Apple iPhone ever made, it assumes that our next appointment is probably 15 states away, rather than 15 minutes away by car:
Google’s Maps program, on the other hand, is very much GPS-aware, and the suggestions it offers are locations that are closest to where the phone is, not furthest away:
Why on earth (no pun intended) would Apple produce a map program for its phones that doesn’t make use of the phone’s most important feature — it’s ability to know where it is?
We are exploring a collaboration with the Holistic Information Security Practitioner’s Institute (HISPI) to create Kerika process templates focused on best practices in security.
The first of these is now available: how to do a security screening for new employees.
This template is available to all Kerika users, of course, and will be improved in the future as we continue to work with HISPI.
As Kerika gets adopted by larger teams, working on larger and more complex projects, we have seen an increasing need to create filtered views of projects.
To make this easy, in the usual Kerika style, we are adding Tagging as the main new feature in our next release. This video will give you a quick overview of how tagging works in Kerika:
The concepts behind tagging are simple:
- Every project board can have its own set of tags, and tags can also be added to templates if you want them to be part of your regular workflow.
- Every Project Leader and Team Member can add new tags, apply tags, or remove tags.
- A quick filter capability lets you easily see which items on a board match specific tags.
- If you are working on a Scrum board, tags are integrated with your Backlogs: bringing a card in from a Backlog will automatically add the tags for that card to your current project board.
- Tags are always converted to lower-case, and are not case-sensitive: i.e. “Server” becomes “server”. You cannot add duplicate tags to a board, so, for example, you can’t have “Server” and “server” as tags within a board since they are both considered the same.
There are a bunch of other improvements in the new version, of course, but tagging is the one you will see right away! Let us know what you think…
In many industries, a small proportion of the users will consume a disproportionate amount of the product, and will provide the vast bulk of a company’s profit.
This is true in the beer business for example: the beer companies have long known that a small percentage of their customers will drink a vast amount of beer every day. (This factoid used to be a staple of marketing classes in the 1980s, when it was offered as an example of the 80:20 rule — 20% of the consumers will drink 80% of the beer. Which actually amounts to about a case of beer a day…)
It is also true for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) businesses: Forbes reported in 2011, for example, that just 4% of Dropbox’s users pay for the service, and yet Dropbox is a growing, profitable company! The other 96% contribute indirectly, by adding to the network effect and recruiting others who have a 4% probability of becoming a paid-up subscriber of Dropbox.
These percentages can seem small, but they can quickly add up when you have millions of users.
Facebook has a similar profile of users: a small number of people are logged in obsessively, and these will provide the bulk of their advertising revenues — not just because they are more like to see the advertisements, but because they are more likely to view Facebook as a trusted source of useful content.
In this context, creating Facebook Home on Android makes a lot of sense: it doesn’t matter whether a very large proportion of your user base never uses it, if you can get the addicted segment to be logged in all the time. These people will drink all the beer you are selling.
When you sign up for Kerika, using your Google ID, you get sent to an authorization screen where Google asks whether it is OK for Kerika to access some of your Google-related information. One part of this involves access to your Google Contacts.
We often get queries about this, so we thought we would clarify something that’s really important: we don’t use your Google contacts to spam your friends and coworkers!
The Google Contacts are used for one reason only: to provide an auto-completion of names and email addresses when you are adding people to a project team. Here’s a simple illustration:
To add people to a project team, you would click on the People button, which appears on the top-right corner of the Kerika application, and this would show a display similar to the example above, where all the members of your project team are listed (along with their roles). To add a new person, you would click on the +Member link at the top, and then start typing in a name or email address:
As you type in a name or email address, we pass on this string to Google which tries to match it up with entries in your Google contacts. These entries start showing up immediately, and get filtered progressively as you type in more characters:
This matching of names and emails is done by Google, which means Kerika never has direct access to your Google Contacts!
This auto-completion is a handy feature: it eliminates a major source of errors, which is mistyping email addresses. This means that the chances of you inviting the wrong person to your project are much lower!
In addition to the styling changes we have made, we have also been working to make sure you always have easy access to your project updates, by improving and extending the onscreen notifications you get from Kerika. There are a whole bunch of improvements in our newest version:
- Kerika reminds you when you are hiding a column on a task board: using the Workflow button, you can always personalize your view of a task board, hiding some columns if they are not of interest. Now, Kerika makes sure you don’t forget that you have some columns hidden, by showing a small indicator above the Workflow button:
- And, if there are updates to cards on columns that you are hiding, these will never get missed:
Clicking on the Workflow button will show you clearly which hidden columns have updates:
In the example above, the “This Sprint” and “In Development” columns are currently hidden from view, and there are updates to cards on the “In Development” column.
- If you have several projects underway, Kerika makes it easier than ever to know which of them have updates that you haven’t seen. This is done in two places in the user interface: first, your project tabs show orange indicators when there are unread notifications:
And, when you are browsing your list of projects, you see orange highlights on the project cards as well, to let you know there are unread updates:
- And, finally, a new feature makes it easy for you to find updated cards within columns, which is especially useful when you are dealing with a lot of cards, e.g. in a Product Backlog:
As with all our product improvements, the Kerika team has been testing the changes extensively by “dogfooding” the software: we use Kerika for all of our work, and we have been very pleased with these improvements which have really improved our own team productivity!
We have some styling changes in our latest version of Kerika, which we think makes the user interface seem more open and inviting, and makes it even easier to see highlights and notifications.
The new styling is something that we had been mulling over for a while: a number of users had said that the old styling was a little “too grey” (our thanks to Yakup Trana for being among the earliest to provide this feedback). The new styling essentially reverses the old look of grey cards on a white background.
The new look for your project cards is like this:
The cards are easier to read, and more clearly defined. (We have also tweaked the color of the grey border around the cards, to make it slightly darker which makes for a crisper look.) A lot of the old horizontal lines have been removed as well, which makes for a cleaner look. By contrast, this is the old styling:
The contrast between the two is quite dramatic: the new Kerika is a lot cleaner and more inviting!
The new look for your task cards is like this:
Task cards are easier to read, and the important highlights and notifications are also more crisply delivered. Here, by contrast, is the old Kerika styling:
Once again, a dramatic contrast, and clearly for the better! We have been testing this new styling within the Kerika team for the past 3 weeks, and have been continually tweaking it on a daily basis. We now feel it is the best we can do! Let us know what you think.
Google Plus doesn’t seem to like TIFF files; Mac’s Grab and Preview utilities are more annoying than ever…
We just encountered a weird bug in Google+: after being prompted over several days to upload a larger image as our cover photo, we decided to get a larger screenshot of the Kerika application.
On a Mac, there are several ways of doing this, but the most direct way is to use Mac’s Grab utility. This utility used to be a lot easier to use before Mountain Lion’s “improvements”: now, Grab disappears after you switch to another application, using the Cmd-Tab keys, which is really annoying because you have to relaunch it all the time.
But, that isn’t really our main beef right now… One long-standing annoyance of Grab is that it saves files in the TIFF format. We have no idea why: TIFF seems like a really ancient format these days.
If you try to upload a TIFF file to Google+, however, the file shows up inverted for some reason. This seems to be a weird bug on Google’s part: TIFF files, alone, are being inverted when they are uploaded.
To get around this, you have to save your TIFF-based screenshot as a PNG file (or JPEG, but then you have to make sure you don’t lose resolution in the process). This means opening the TIFF file in your Mac’s Preview utility, and then trying to save that as a PNG file.
Saving a file as a different type used to be simple with the old Preview, but no more: another one of Apple’s annoying “improvements” has been to eliminate the “Save As…” option from Preview’s File menu. So, you have to do something completely counter-intuitive: you need to duplicate the file, using the Duplicate option of the File menu, and then close that new window. Closing the new window alarms Preview enough to prompt you to save the file, at which point you are finally presented with a dialog box that lets you select the file type you want.
And then it’s back to Google+ to upload your new PNG screenshot…
Google and Apple are considered the leaders in usability, so there we have it: this is the state of the art!
We have added a new template for our users: The Business Model Canvas.
The Business Model Canvas is an increasingly popular tool for startups to systematically analyze their proposed business model by identifying:
- Key Partners
- Key Activities
- Key Resources
- Value Propositions
- Customer Relationships
- Customer Segments
- Cost Structure
- Revenue Streams
Using this template is easy: when you start a new project, you will find “Business Model Canvas” among the choices for Task Board projects:
You can also access the template directly at https://kerika.com/m/GFXC, and click on the “Use this template” button on the upper-right corner to get started fast.
Once you start your new project using this template, your task board looks like this:
Each of the main sections of the Business Model Canvas are presented as columns on this task board, and you can customize this as you like:
Individual cards on this task board are setup and ready for you to fill in; here’s an example:
The card shown above, as an example, can be used to identify one of your key suppliers. For this supplier (and for all of your other key suppliers), you should identify the motivations of this supplier: why this supplier would want to do business with you? Motivations could include:
- Supplier is seeking optimizations and economies of scale
- Supplier is seeking to reduce risk and uncertainty
- Supplier is looking to acquire particular resources and activities.
For each supplier, you should identify the key activities that will be performed: this can added to a simple Google Doc, and attached to this card. (We have provided Google Docs templates for individual cards.)
And, finally, for each supplier you should identify the key resources that will be acquired; this can be added to the same Google Doc, or listed separately.
In this way you can easily work through the business model canvases various steps.
Using a process template like Kerika’s is vastly superior to simply printing out a large poster of the canvas, because the cards in the Kerika process template can be used to support conversations, manage content, track status, and collaborate across multiple locations: and that’s just not possible with a paper canvas!
The Business Model Canvas is also gaining popularity within larger organizations that are seeking to adopt (and adapt?) lean startup principles, so we expect that this new template will be of interest to a wide variety of users. And, by the way, creating this template is just part of an ongoing process here at Kerika, to capture and present best practices for a variety of professions and industries!