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280daily: Short Journaling

In the modern world diaries are all but a thing of the past. People have taken to blogs, tweets, and posts to their Facebook walls, to dialogue their day to day activities. Some of these can be made private, if you like. They’re really set up to share your daily updates with the world though. They are great for connecting with the rest of the world, but something’s lost by not keeping everything to private.

There’s something special about keeping your thoughts to yourself- about writing something down that’s for your eyes alone. This is the story of your life, the parts that you don’t need to share with everyone but want to record. Maybe to look at later on, maybe just to write down.

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Reintroducing diaries to the world, the online world that is, is 280daily. 280daily is a site where you can sum up your day, every day. It gives you 280 characters and one photo, to do so. It’s a private site, strictly for your own purposes. Just like a diary.

The way it works is simple, if not predictable. You log in, and add your 280 character summaries every day. Tweets are limited to 140 characters, so this is still a very brief message. Each entry has a check box to indicate that it’s a day of note. Let’s say you have something particularly interesting that happens. Maybe you found your lost bottle cap collection, got a new star wars figure off eBay, or finally won the next level in a video game. (You aren’t limited to our  preferred days of note- they can be anniversaries, birthdays, or other more notable events.) Once the entry is saved you can upload the photo.

After a little while the diary begins to take shape, this time using some of the modern amenities of the web. The dashboard displays a random selection of your previous days. This will help bring back memories from the past, just like those days that you thumb through your diary. Also helping you look through the past entries is the search widget. I bet people wished they had one of these in their standard diaries. Every time you pick the thing up you end up down an hours long stroll down memory lane. The search functionality at least helps bring you directly to the page you’re looking for. Of course you can thumb through your history page by page as well. (Entry by entry, really).

It’s sometimes nice to have your most cherished memories back in the offline world. 280daily provides three options for exporting your entries. The first is to print them. It’s said to come in a beautiful format. If you want a copy on your hard drive you can export them directly to PDF. And finally there’s the book option. Here you can have your list of 280daily entries immortalized in print, safe to take wherever you like. (The print feature is still in development, but is coming soon.)

One aspect of the site worthy of note is the settings. 280daily provides one of the most robust sets of configurable options we’ve seen in a while. It’s fitting given the personal nature of the site. It allows you to configure everything from the text on the new entry page as well as the landing page you arrive at when you log in. It even lets you configure a secondary landing page in case the one you selected doesn’t have any content that day.

280daily is an innovative blend of online technology and a centuries old pastime. There’s something special about writing down your thoughts for only your eyes to see. This has largely been lost in the updates on many of the popular social networks. 280daily brings this back so people can again, in much more modernized form, keep track of their innermost thoughts.


SongTrust: Take Control of Your Music

The Kinks have trillions of great songs, and one of them is “The Moneygoround,” an acerbic tune railing against the injustices of the music industry. You’d be wise to check out all the lyrics, but here’s a particularly good excerpt:

Eyes down round and round let’s all sit and watch the moneygoround
Everyone take a little bit here and a little bit there
Do they all deserve money from a song that they’ve never heard?
They don’t know the tune and they don’t know the words

Bottom line: the music industry is brutal, and always has been, and complaining about the music industry has been around since that first savvy caveman invented the pan flute.  It always seems to be the artists, of all people, who get exploited.  But now there’s hope:  It’s called SongTrust and it puts power back where it belongs: in the hands of the artist.

SongTrust Home

SongTrust allows songwriters to take control of their publishing and completely cut out the suits who’d normally stuff their pockets, cigar in mouth, cackling away.  With Songtrust, an end-to-end song management platform, songwriters can 1) keep 100% of the rights to their songs, 2) have their songs licensed – and that’s where the real money’s at – while keeping 100% of the royalties, all while 3) not signing a long-term contract.  So, rather than being locked into a Draconian agreement – and the examples in the industry are numerous – songwriters can opt out at any time.

So I took the tour.  It laid out the complex and oftentimes costly song registration process – without coming across as patronizing.  (That said, most musicians are stunted children; it’s necessary to talk down to them.  I mean, have you seen how some of them live?)  This is doubly-important once you realize that many musicians are also purists and don’t want to get soiled by the nitty-gritty of the industry. But they should; if not, someone else will make money off their work.  SongTrust’s tools are visually stimulating as well.  This is important.  Most (all?) musicians are now creating their tunes on Garage Band or ProTools and are techy-savy.  In line with this, SongTrust has a simple dashboard, listing registered songs, songwriters, and earnings, for example.

Songtrust works because it’s intelligently tapped into the zeitgeist of the digital music industry.  Back in the day, artists primarily got paid through record sales and the occasional (and rare) publishing deal.  This process was tightly regimented through a complex web of labels, publishing companies, distributors, etc.  The Internet, of course, changed all that.  Bands are empowered to control all levers of the music-making and distribution process.  Some bands get famous overnight simply due to a catchy MP3 that went viral.  Digital music platforms like itunes, BandCamp, and ReverbNation enable bands to distribute their tunes affordably.  But make no mistake: it’s still the Wild West, and better technology doesn’t necessarily translate into greater revenues, or control, for the artist.

For starters, many artists simply aren’t registering their songs, and it’s no secret why: the process is cryptic and confusing.  (As you can imagine, SongTrust is affiliated with the heavy-hitters of the publishing world: BMI, ASCAP, and others.)  Due to this confusion, many artists shrug and say, “Ah, it’s no big deal,” only to come to regret it when they get 3,000 downloads in a day, or IKEA picks up the tune for a commercial.   Which brings me to my next point and another valuable service SongTrust offers: music licensing. Licensing can be extremely lucrative. But let’s be honest – can a super-talented dude in his bedroom in Peoria really get his tune in the hand of some ad executive?  Unlikely.  But SongTrust can, and can hawk your tunes for licensing purposes through their Premium Membership.

SongTrust provides an all-in-one music publishing platform that cuts out the middlemen.  All of this for less than $10 a month.  Heck, do the math: as an artist, yearly fees will more than pay for itself with just one royalty check.  And for SongTrust’s revenue stream, it’s simply a matter of scale.  The number of bands and songs are seemingly infinite; even if a mere fraction sign up, they’ll surely thrive.

Which brings me back to the Kinks and the wonderful irony implicit in the digital music age.  Thanks to platforms such as SongTrust, a super-talented dude in his bedroom in Peoria now can have more control over his own music than Ray Davis, Bob Dylan, or John Lennon did.  Heck, look at John Fogerty: he was sued by his publisher for plagiarizing his own song! (whose rights, of course, he didn’t own.)  And since complaining about the music industry goes hand-in-hand with the industry itself, it has to make you wonder: if SongTrust allows artists to register their songs, track their music, license the tunes, and easily manage their royalties, what will songwriters have to, y’know, complain about?


SingleTask: The One of Zen

We all have goals. Some of these are easy to achieve, and some are long standing desires that have never come to fruition. Working towards them takes dedication, hard work, and most of all, consistency. Staying on task for extended periods of time is the key to completing your goals.

There are many different tools to help us stay focused. In a life so full of distractions these todo lists, calendars, reminders, accountability partners, angry ex girlfriends, and life coaches, all serve as impetuses to keep us productive. Along with each of these are various philosophies on what the key ingredients are in achieving one’s goals. One of these philosophies is to focus on one task at a time. Write the task down, work on it through to completion, and then continue on to the next task. The idea is that by accomplishing one thing you’re slowly making your way to accomplishing an overwhelming pile of work. This idea of focusing on one and only one task at a time is promoted by the book Zen to Done, and is also a core principle of Agile development.

Never did the concept of singling out tasks for linear completion take a truer form than its implementation in the site Single Task. Single Task, is the ultimate representation of the Zen to Done philosophy. It’s an underwhelmingly simple tool that keeps track of your todo list. One task at a time.

Exhibit A- Single Task

If you don’t believe just how simple Simple Task is, observe the screen shot above. That’s the home page. All of it. By clicking the Add Task link on the top right it prompts you to add one more task. The circular arrow cycles through them. The X deletes the current task and the pencil allows you to edit it. There is no way to see all tasks at once- don’t want to over complexify things here. When you’ve completed the task you check the box and it removes it from the queue.

I want to pause here a moment and reflect on a phenomena that occurs in religious circles. Oftentimes an excess of piety is imposed on others by those with a guilty conscious. Instead of confronting ones own lusty desires it’s projected on other hapless souls. In turn it’s compensated for with a regimen of strict morality. Back to these Zen- let’s do everything one by one- people, I’m guessing they’re the same. They get distracted more than most of us and never get anything done. So they write a book to make up for it raising the focus and simplicity bar far above normal standards. In the same way that most people see through the veil of chastity from men of the cloth, so people also realize the limitations of an uninterruptable sequential task system. But not Single Task. They’re the one dutiful convert, living up to the standard that its Zen creators know only in their ideals.

The result of this is evident. Here we have a website with no borders. It’s like your one task is about to spill off the page into the nebulous outer webs. The most attractive graphic is in fact the favicon, (which reminds me we need to update ours…) And then there’s a whole lot of nothing. I didn’t mention this at first, but for most actions it brings up a popup dialogue box to enter text or confirm your response. Yes, the kind of popup boxes that are best known for their prevalence in 1998. What’s more is that the Single Task folks are Javascript kung fu champions. Just click on the Help link and the page is uncomfortably filled with an exceptionally limited set of instructions. (Pictured below.) Surely we can upgrade to a more graceful JQuery dialogue box or something. At this point we’d settle for a blinking marquee- anything to make the site better reflect the fact that it is in fact, a web site.

Exhibit B- Help!

In the absence of common web browsing amenities, all we’re left with is our one task to look at. It looks right back at us every time we bring up the page. And perhaps, the open space leaves room for our inner Zen child to be channeled away from the distraction that so easily entangles. Before we know it we’re working towards getting that one thing done right now, free from the encumbrance of our mountain of chores.

So, we offer our dismissive approval to Single Task if they’ll grant us this one request. Don’t let the (extremely brief) content run to the edge of the page. Adding just a smidgen of padding on both margins will help allay our fears that our task will fall off, into the unknown. Hopefully this minor indulgence won’t upset the equilibrium of the Zen world, incurring a global outbreak of procrastination.

Achieving one’s goals ultimately comes down to the choice of the person pursuing them. Single Task provides a simple, yet powerful, yet simple, tool to help accomplish this. Whether you’re enlightened by the height of Zen, or like those of us who are a bit too dull to think about two things at once, Single Task can help you stay focused on the task at hand.

It looks like Single Task pulled the site down. Too bad! I was just attempting to use it.


Project Fizz: Freelancing at last

For some, being self employed is the ultimate goal. Sun in your face, wind at your back, feet propped up on your desk with no one to answer to but yourself. If it’s a beautiful day outside you can leave the chains of the 8-5 schedule and go enjoy the day. No need to think about retirement- you’re well ahead of the pack.

The reality of freelancing sometimes differs for the dream though. Clients call in the middle of the night with last minute minor changes. Invoices may go unnoticed and unpaid. Long hours can be spent to meet insane deadlines. Or entire designs may have to be reimplemented with graphics provided by their niece. There are many hazards when sailing your freelancing ship out of the safety of the corporate dock.

Project Fizz

One of the biggest aspects of managing clients is setting expectations. First is understanding what the client wants. Then you use your expertise to fill in the blanks to explain to them what they really need. And finally clarifying an appropriate timeline and cost associated for that. In the world of freelancing, these steps sometimes go out the door in a frenzy to bid new projects. This haphazard job bidding environment has grieved employers and freelancers alike. Leading the effort to rectify it, is Project Fizz.

Project Fizz is, at its core, a site that helps employers find freelancers. It comes with a few important twists though. First is that all bids are blind, meaning there’s no bidding war that takes place. Clients receive bids and can select whichever professional they prefer. The result of this is that freelancers are compelled to bid the project exactly as they see it. They’ll offer a fee that they think is appropriate and fitting for the job description. The other aspect of Project Fizz’s system is that the bids cost freelancers a minor fee. This is anywhere from 40-50 cents depending on how many you purchase. Thus, with Project Fizz a number of lesser qualified applicants will shy away from applying. This is good for everyone so senior web developers aren’t losing jobs to those with nominal experience.

Employers have the option to list the job, indicate their expected price range, and describe the project. See the Web Design project pictured below. I’ll note one red flag that caught my eye on the page. The price is decent- in the thousands, but the time frame indicates, “When it’s done.” Oftentimes ambiguous answers are euphemisms for, “I need it done yesterday.” The first thing to do here is to describe the work and set an expected end date. Then watch how far back the client falls over. Negotiating schedules is like negotiating for a fee, so be sure to give yourself some padding so you have wiggle room when they push back. Most jobs offered on Project Fizz will be to hire freelancers, but some will also be full time positions.

Project Fizz web design bid

Now, let’s say you come across a project that is particularly lucrative. The work is exactly what you’re most competent at, (other than throwing a few brews down at the pub). Your schedule is wide open for new clients and you’d really like the job. In this case you have the option to offer a premium bid. These have all the same functions as a regular one, but are formatted differently and are filtered to the top of the bids. Since it stands out and employers know it costs a bit more for these, they’re more likely to give it thorough consideration.

Project Fizz is a recently launched site. As part of their new kickoff they’re offering 100 free bids to new freelancers. This includes access to their invoicing system, (Project Fizz doesn’t take any intermediary cut of this), file management, and feedback system. It’s a great way to pick up new work and start off your projects on the right foot. The world of freelance work can be rocky at times. With Project Fizz, those navigational miscues are mitigated so employers will better be able to outsource to freelancers.


Lab42: Full service online market research

I remember a friend of mine’s father went into business. After years of working the stable and secure job offered by a large corporation he cast off from the anchor of the life that bored him. He had conceived of a better way to do things. After presenting his idea to his management and being resoundingly rejected, he set off on his own to make it happen. A few loans from the bank, a few chest murmurs from the stress, and no shortage of late nights, he found a small path to success. This path grew wider and wider and before long he had achieved financial success that never would never have be attainable at the stable 9 to 5 office job.

Somewhere along the way he offered some sage words of wisdom, “Businesses eat money.” He was lamenting the many expenses that pile up when running an enterprise. Sure they have a lot of upswing potential, but those bills can pile up quick.

Lab42 Home

One large bill businesses need to pay is for online market research. Before embarking on million dollar investments it’s usually worthwhile to try to learn who your projected customers are. The more you know about where they are, what they’re doing, what their needs are, and how you’re going to meet those needs, the better off you will be. So you head on over to your local market research firm, drop off a check for tens of thousands of dollars, and await the results. This report, if nothing else, will appease the financial backers, giving them a sense of security and assurance in their investment.

Cutting costs is also a great habit for businesses to get into. Any time you can cut overhead and receive the same level of service, you’re getting ahead. Thus, Lab42 was born. Lab42 is a cost effective full service online market research company. (Say that three times fast!) They prepare, send out, and evaluate surveys of your potential customers. These are then compiled into charts and reports giving you analyzed results of your market.

There are a few things about Lab42 that make them stand out. The first is that they don’t use survey panels. That is, the people taking the survey aren’t professional survey takers who only do so for an incentive. Because of this they’re able to target specific market segments for every survey. Next is that they are full service. Although you interface with them via the web there are trained research professionals handling the details on the other end. So if you need help creating the online survey they’re available to help with that.

Let’s say for instance you have a new website concept you want to research. You can design the online survey with their web interface, declare the demographic you want to target and then let them go to work. Within 3-5 days they’ll do the research and return the results. They utilize social networks to gather their data. Here’s a sample report.

As mentioned, the real crux of Lab42 is being able to get the information you need at a much discounted rate. Their fees of $300 to $1000 pale in comparison to what you would pay from using other firms. Because Lab42 is able to intelligently integrate technology without completely replacing personal assistance, they’re able to reduce costs and provide the same level of service.

Market research is expensive. It takes a lot of work to find people within your target demographic to respond to a few simple questions. Lab42 makes this type of online research accessible to those without huge budgets or those who would just like to save some money. Entrepreneurs, retailers, advertising agencies, designers, and intellectual property owners alike, will find Lab42 to be a cost effective way to conduct online market research.


Mobilastic: Mobile web adapter

Building web sites takes a lot of knowledge. You have to be versed in backend code, often Python or PHP. Then you need to become a database expert with SQL and your database engine of choice. On the frontend you need a complete understanding of HTML, CSS, and graphic design. Not to mention Javascript, JQuery and any number of associated technologies.

After much hard work eventually it all comes together. You fire it up in a web browser, say, FireFox, and it looks great! Then, just to be safe you take a look at it in Internet Explorer. Half the graphics are out of place, the forms don’t work, and it has any number of mind boggling browser compatibility issues. The woes of cross browser design are the source of much headache for web developers.

Mobilastic Home

Imagine having to design a web page that displays correctly on thousands of different screens. This is what mobile development is like. Translating your web page so it displays gracefully across all the smart phones out there is a herculean endeavor. In reality what you end up doing is designing for all the major contenders and calling it a day. Most web dev teams don’t have the budget to convert their site across multiple devices. As a result there are many tools that you can use that create mobile apps for you. These tools are great in that they display correctly across the myriad of available smart phones. The drawback is that their prefabricated nature usually limits what you can actually do with them.

Now there’s a way for developers to build mobile apps the way they always have, using the same skills they used to build their websites. Then it’s translated, transcribed- whatever you want to call it, so it appears correctly on all mobile devices. This can be done with Mobilastic.

Mobilastic isn’t your mobile web app builder for newbies. You have to know what you’re doing. This includes all the development skills listed above. It uses a templating system dear to our hearts- that which is provided by Django. After learning the rest of web development it’s not hard to pick it up. The code is entered directly into Mobi’s online interface. By default your content is served to a Mobilastic URL. Once all the kinks are worked out you can set it up to serve through your own domain.

Mobilastic Code View

Currently Mobilastic is in beta invite only. We were able to get one of these prized invites, and thus have been able to capture a screen shot of the code panel, (pictured above). Please don’t tell the Mobilastic folks that we’re stealing their thunder by putting it here. There’s a well stocked knowledge base full of resources on how to use their services. They also provide video tutorials and have a budding community center.

Mobile development is a special sector that takes a concerted effort to address. Building applications that display correctly across all platforms takes a lot of work. Mobilastic takes the hard part out of mobile development so that developers can focus on what they do best.


eBackers: Den of web developers

The web can be described as a series of rooms. Some rooms are large, others are small, or somewhere in between. The more spacious rooms are well known– everybody and their neighbor go there. The lesser known sites are like safe havens from the masses. Quiet reprieves where locals can gain a sense of familiarity. They’re like smokey rooms where outsiders may or may not find themselves welcome.

One such haven is eBackers. A definitive respite from the madness that rages just outside its doors. The smoke in eBackers’ room is of an entirely different nature however. It’s the technical skills of web developers. And the unwelcome greeting? Well, it’s more the fact that people that know nothing of web development don’t really fit in in that crowd. It’s the lifelong separation of nerds and the rest of society that keeps the general population from pouring through its doors.

eBackers Home

eBackers was founded on a very simple principle. Web developers need a place meet others who are doing the same thing. Building websites is kind of a funny business. Oftentimes people work on projects during nights and weekends while maintaining day jobs to pay the bills. If you have the skills, the overhead for these projects can be minimal. Many websites are built with a negligible amount of funding. Finding the right people to work with- that’s the trick.

The way it works is you can either search for existing opportunities or post new ones. There are no user registrations. All you do is include a title, your email address, description, and optionally, a website. The email address is anonymized so your personal information won’t be posted to the web. From there, all new posts are displayed on the home page. To prevent spam and in order to maintain the integrity of the site, all posts are reviewed and approved manually by eBackers team of Hazmat certified professionals. Once posted posts are online for 45 days.

So, let’s say you’re starting a new website, let’s call it, “Taking over the world.” Here you can describe how you plan on gaining influence over the media, controlling the banks, and then forming alliances with conspiring foreign influences. You can list your own skills, such as design, CSS, HTML, and explosives. Then list what you’re looking for- SQL guru, Python ninja, and nuclear fission expert. Once the post is approved you’ll get a series of replies, including some from financial backers and covert CIA operatives. The key is to only work with those that are most qualified without bringing any moles onto the team.

eBackers is a site for web developers and those that work in the field. Their small smokey room fosters the environment for like minded individuals to learn about new opportunities or share their own. Here the web of tomorrow is born and the people that will make it happen, can meet.


Skillbadge: Show your stuff

Everybody likes to show off a bit. Whether it’s being recognized for their professional skill, hobbies, or obscure talents, people like to be display their skills to the world around them. Social networks provide a great outlet for this. People can talk about anything from their latest antics to their well honed talents.

With so many people looking for recognition, why not give them what they’re looking for? What people want is a veritable badge of honor to represent  everything they’re good at. Thus, skillbadge was born.

Skillbadge Home

Skillbadge is, essentially, a pie chart. Now, I know most people might be wondering how a pie chart can be hailed as a prized badge that people would use to represent themselves. Well, skillbadge’s pie chart shows everything that you’re good at. So if you’re an expert Samba dancer and skilled PHP programmer (we suspect this combination doesn’t occur too often), then you can create a badge that indicates that.

The way it works is pretty straightforward. You register, add your skills, and view your chart. There are three options that can be set- the skill, your level of expertise at it, and how many years you’ve exercised this talent. Level of expertise ranges from Beginner to Expert. You can enter up to six skills. Once you’ve entered your skills, the skillbadge is generated. Behind the scenes it apportions your talents based upon the number of years and level of expertise.

There are a few options for displaying the badge. First is the profile page. Here you can select a unique identifier to direct people to. Here’s a link to ours, (pictured below). As you’ll notice, I’m best at fun according to the skillbadge. The good thing about this system is that it believes everything you tell it. There’s no questioning the authenticity of your claims. The other option for displaying the badge is to embed it into a web page with a small code snippet. This is helpful since as you update your skills those changes will be reflected everywhere.

Skillbadge also provides a small icon which can readily be included in your signature to link to your profile page. This might be one of the more common uses of it. We’ll also note that the site is still fairly new and utilizes Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for user registration. It’s likely you’ll be able to readily post your skillbadge to those networks in the near future.

SlapStart's skillbadge
SlapStart’s skillbadge

Showing off one’s skills is something everyone likes to do. It helps give people an idea of who you are. Whether for professional promotion or personal enjoyment, skillbadge is a great way to display your talents.

Skillbadge fell off the face of the planet. We’ll remember them as the site that made badges, which people never quite came to appreciate.

Chext Home Startup

Chext: Joint checkbook balancing, mobile style

Keeping one’s checkbook balanced is challenging. It requires constantly updating your expenses. To make matters worse, when you visit the ATM you rarely have your checkbook ledger with you. Even if you did you probably wouldn’t update it right then and there anyway. Most people are happy to get away from ATM machines without their pin numbers being stolen, let alone a real live check book.

Now, let’s say, along comes a woman. And then comes rings, vows, and ultimately, a shared checking account. (Please tell me you did those in that order!) Everybody has different spending habits. Let’s also imagine that one of you has the habit of seeing money in the account buying- let’s just call it what it is- junk they find on sale. If you aren’t careful, before you know it you’re writing bad checks, simultaneously accumulating overdraft charges and high blood pressure.

Chext Home

Coming to the rescue to this otherwise stressful situation is Chext.net. Chext provides a tool to update the balance of your checkbook online, or by sending text messages. No more having to take your worn down check book with its oft illegible ledger everywhere. If you pull $20 from the checking account at the ATM, send a text indicating that, and you’re done. Or if one of you buys $453 dollars worth of patagonias and a subscription to Glam magazine, they can text that as well.

The way it works is first you set up your account, which includes registering your phone number to the account. Then you text all your transactions to Chext’s number set up to process all updates. (We aren’t sure what happens if you call the number, though we strongly suspect it’s a direct line to Dr Laura, ready talk you through any conflict management issues.)

Hearkening to the simplicity of what it takes to balance a checkbook, there’s a relatively short list of commands to update the balance. If you send a text with a number followed by a short description, it subtracts that amount from the balance and adds the label. If you type a plus(+) before the number it credits that amount to your account. ‘Bal’ returns the current balance. (If it comes back unexpectedly low you may still experience hypertension, but at least you avoid the overdraft fees.) The only other commonly used command is ‘undo,’ which unfortunately doesn’t have the effect of undoing the spending habits of your significant other. It simply cancels your last transaction in the event you mistyped an update. All transactions can be seen, edited and reconciled through the online interface. It’s just like a checkbook ledger, only online and updateable from your phone.

How Chext Works

Chext is free to try out and offers two plans.  The first is the solo plan and the second is the for couples. Incidentally, there are two other commands, both of which are used with the joint accounts. First is the ‘invite’ command followed by the phone number of the person you share the account with. The second is, (let’s hope it doesn’t come to this), the ‘revoke’ command also followed by the phone number of the recently revoked person in your life.

Keeping a checkbook balanced takes enduring discipline. With shared accounts the task becomes all the more unmanageable. Chext provides an easy way to keep your account up to date so you’ll always be aware of how much money you have. Now, if they could only figure out a way to prevent some of the more egregious expenditures, then we’d all be saved.

Chext’s concept of keeping a joint checkbook balanced came and it went. Let’s face it- there’s usually one person that really doesn’t like taking care of their paperwork. It doesn’t matter how easy or hard you make it for them, they aren’t going to want to do it. Chext was a noble concept which just didn’t quite catch on.


Buffer and Tweriod: The Twitter Power Pack

Twitter is a powerful way to stay in touch with people. Just send out 140 character or less messages and your followers will hear about it. These tweets are used by most major pop stars, actors, and SlapStart. They’re a great marketing tool.

Tweets are only effective if people are around to notice them though. As anyone with more than a few hundred friends on Twitter knows, tweets flow fast. If you send them out in the middle of the night there’s a chance no one will notice amidst the piles of competing messages. One of the aforementioned parties has a tendency to tweet out articles in the middle of the night or early in the morning. This may not be the optimum time to send tweets. But is there a way to know when is the best time to send them?

Tweriod Results

As it turns out, there is. Tweriod is a simple Twitter app that does one thing. It tracks and reports the optimal times for you to Tweet. It monitors the activity of your followers for a few days and tells you when the most people are online. Once the results are compiled Tweriod sends you a Direct Message with a link to them. Based upon these results we learned that SlapStart’s tweets are best sent between 3-6PM or 9-10PM.

But then comes the next problem. Sometimes we get busy in the late afternoon. Or maybe we have plans later in the evening. As great as Twitter is, it’s hardly the type of thing we want to make a daily ritual throughout the day. What if you have many followers in Europe? Or what if you’re from Europe marketing to the US? Now we need a way to schedule and send tweets out in our absence. We need a tweet buffer.

Buffer, found at BufferApp.com, creates a queue of tweets that can be scheduled and sent out at your discretion. So let’s say you finish your next article at 3:37AM, and are inclined to announce it to a world right then. With Buffer you can schedule a series of Tweets throughout the day to send it out into the world at the optimal time.

Buffer comes in a few flavors, including their free plan which gives you 2 scheduled tweets per day and up to five tweets in your buffer. The Max plan allows an unlimited number of tweets a day and an infinite buffer size. It goes for $20/month. A paltry fee to not have to excuse yourself from dinner parties to tweet your faithful readers. All plans come with Chrome and Safari extensions. These make it easy to schedule tweets while you’re browsing the web. Let’s say you come across a particularly interesting site. You can grab some text from the article and click it. An overview can be seen below. (It has fantastic background music!)

Twitter is a powerful tool whether you’re trying to stay in touch with you many adoring fans, promoting a new product line, or get a little more exposure on sites like TripTwit. With the advent of Buffer, sending out Tweets has never been easier. Tweriod gives us exactly the insight we need for when to schedule them. Sending scheduled tweets at the optimal time can greatly improve the effectiveness of your tweets.