iManageProject: Taking control of your projects

The other day I was walking down the street. Out of the blue a mysterious stranger approached me with two large bags in his hands. He handed them to me, told me it was a couple million dollars. His only words were to go, find a team of people, and build a tech start-up to rule all tech start-ups. Of course, some hours later I awoke from my slumber which carried me right back to reality. This is one where people work on start-up the old fashioned way- in a garage with only Coke and potato chips for sustenance.

But the reality of having a funded start-up isn’t all that far fetched. There are in fact many start-ups that enjoy the constant phone calls and demands of reports from those who threw money at them. And what to do with all this money? Hire a team of people and start working. Designers, developers, market researchers, testers, and a whole lot of coffee will usually get things going. Once your start-up grows beyond two or three people the need to get organized becomes clear. And so begins the hunt for an online collaboration tool. This hunt can end with iManageProject, a new, state of the art Project management system.

iManageProject Home

iManageProject comes with all the basics that an online collaboration software service needs. It also includes a number of bells and whistles that make it stand out. The core service includes to-do lists, file sharing, milestones, time tracking, a writeboard, and the ability to set permissions. Any project management system worth its salt will provide these. The to-do lists allow you to assign tasks to team members and include deadlines. You can also set privacy options depending on how widely known you’d like to make it. So if you’re telling an engineer to build your project such that it explodes eight days after the warranty expires, it’s a good idea not to propagate the information out to the team. The file sharing option seems like a pretty regular feature, until you realize it comes with an image gallery. No need for people to have to download the new design as they can view it as soon as it’s uploaded. Milestones are denoted on the project calendar so you can schedule project phases, due dates, and view responsible persons and deliverables. The writeboard is like the Facebook wall for your project. It’s a place for general discussion about all topics related to the project.

Each account can select custom colors and a logo. This is only fitting so it helps maintain a sense of branding within the company. Ever since the tribal days when our ancient ancestors would go to war, colors and emblems were the mark of a team. iManageProject helps us unite the troops with a common color and logo as we march into battle. Plus, it’s just kind of fun.

iManagementProject Dashboard

iManageProject comes in four packages, and also offers a free trial account. Notably, all options allow for an unlimited number of users. This is extremely helpful since there’s no accounting procedure that needs to take place as the team grows. The basic option provides up to 20 projects and 10GB of space. The Enterprise solution allows for unlimited projects and 100GB of storage. Prices range from $10 to $80 per month.

With the right tools, managing projects isn’t all that hard. It requires clear communication and a minor amount of record keeping. iManageProject is one of the most complete online collaboration tools we’ve come across. It’s a cost effective solution to an age old problem. Given the sturdy and robust nature of their solution, we expect iManageProject to be a serious contender in the project management software space.

Now all we need to do is find some VCs.


ShopperPress: Instant Shopping Cart Websites

Many people have the dream of building a website, making lots of money, and retiring before their thirtieth birthday. This dream fueled the dot com boom. Despite the few websites that dominated the internet, this era is most known for its massive influx of funding into even the most mediocre of ideas. These pseudo business plans with IPOs resonant of pyramid schemes, were big losers for a lot of people.

Even though these investments didn’t work out for most of those involved, the dream of making money online still exists. For some they want millions of dollars. Others want to make a living while having more freedom to enjoy their lives. Still others just want to see their creative ambitions come to fruition.

ShopperPress Home

One question that is quick to arise when launching a new site is whether to build it in house, outsource it, or when to use third party prefabricated products. Using third party products can have its limitations, but there are some designs that are well suited for them. Setting up an online store is one of those design problems that’s been solved hundreds of times. There’s really no reason to build an online store anymore. There are many options for setting up online stores that let you quickly get your store up and running. One of the easiest to use is ShopperPress.

ShopperPress is a theme that works along with WordPress. WordPress, the well known free blogging software, incorporates easily with a large number of themes and plugins. ShopperPress installs on top of WordPress and is an attractive out of the box web store complete with a shopping cart with checkout system.

Setting up ShopperPress is as easy as setting up any WordPress based website. WordPress is made famous by its five minute push button installation process. Once set up all you do is upload ShopperPress and activate the theme. The store can be configured and managed through the familiar WordPress admin interface. Products can be added, prices set, the checkout process can be set up, and payment methods can be configured.

Working with prefabricated solutions can sometimes force you into various design decisions that you may or may not want. ShopperPress provides a number of customizations that make it easy to get exactly the website you want. These include more than twenty different designs and color schemes. You also have over twenty different options for processing payments, the most well known of which is PayPal. Shipping, tax, coupon codes and promotions can be readily integrated with the check out process.

The store itself has numerous amenities including lists of items and galleries, a built in search engine, and multi language and currency display. The products can be displayed with a static image or in a rotating product slideshow. It also readily allows you to set up lists of featured products to bring best sellers to the forefront. As would be expected from any WordPress based system, configuring ads, integrating with Google analytics, and managing many ancillary aspects of the site is easy to do.

ShopperPress Themes

ShopperPress is sold as a standalone product for a one time fee of $79. Once purchased it gives you access to lifetime support, lifetime upgrades, and an unlimited amount of installations. What this means is you can get your inspiration up and running quickly. Many cost effective webhosts allow multiple domain installations so it’s feasible that you can set up multiple stores in a short period of time.

The web remains a frontier that people are still trying to brave. They come up with great ideas and work to bring them to fruition. For those who are inspired to build online stores ShopperPress is on of the easiest ways to do so. It’s built on the backbone of the best blogging software and is readily customized to your needs. Far from the million dollar budgets that defined the boom in the dot com era, ShopperPress can help you get your web store online and ready to start selling.


The Fastest Way: Quicker, Better, Faster

Life of full of things we do over and over again. Every day we tie our shoes, brush our teeth, put on our clothes and then later that day, take them off again. We cook, clean, make reservation, cancel our phone service, deposit money at the bank, drive through traffic. We go through hundreds of routines each of which takes time. Lots of time. There’s got to be a faster way.

That’s what some other people were thinking as well, so they built a site to seek out faster ways to do things for all to see. Introducing, The Fastest Way, (found at thefastestwaysite.com). It’s a site that catalogs the fastest ways to do anything imaginable. From solving Mario Brothers, folding a shirt, taking it off, clearing up acne, to getting over a hangover, The Fastest Way provides a forum for people to describe and discuss the fastest way to do things.

The Fastest Way- to fold a shirt!

The way it works is pretty straight forward. The site is designed with fastest way listings that run down the screen. You can read through or watch the ones that are of most interest. Listings can include video, pictures, or text. The design itself is reminiscent of an abandonware video game from 1982. The green on black retro style is an aesthetic reprieve from the fancy schmancy designs of most sites. It’s nice to come across a different look and feel for a change.

Once you’ve perused through the latest batch of fastest way posts, you may find yourself wanting to comment or contribute. For this you can register which gives you full access to the site. The comment system allows some HTML so you can fashion it however you like. When it comes to creating your own fastest way posts there are two options. The first is to describe the process that you are an expert in the how to do it the fastest. The second is to post a fastest way request, which allows you to seek the counsel of other fastest way experts. Let’s say you are tired of cleaning tarnish off of your best silver. You can make a request as to how to do that.

The post edit form is rather attractive. The dialogue box sprints you straight out of the 80s design into the era of web 2.0. (Pictured below.) The attractive entry box provides all the common amenities of a common WYSIWYG editor so you don’t have to rely on HTML. It actually provides multiple editing options including WYSIWYG, HTML, textile, and markdown. Posts can be giving tags and categories, along with summaries, references, and specifying RSS enclosure information. I’m not sure the full set of information is being utilized in the current design. Most of us will stick to the basics, but it’s neat to see the extra functionality.

The Fastest Way- Post Editor

Users are given profile pages where you can view all their entries. You can subscribe to updates from them as well to be the first to see their latest entries. The site also has the framework set up to send and receive direct messages between users, but it doesn’t appear to be connected just yet. The site was only launched a few weeks ago and is peripheral features are still being added.

The Fastest Way is a great concept. There are many redundant activities we go through every day. Learning how to do them faster lets us get on with our day doing the things we enjoy most. One way to describe it is- The Fastest Way, is the fastest way, to learn how to do things, the fastest.

The Fastest Way took one too many shortcuts and tripped on the cord to their server. We’re not sure when the plug was pulled, but we’ll forever remember their contribution.


StickerMule: Create Awesome Customized Stickers

Here’s a tip, kid.  If you ever play in a band and happen to tour “the circuit,” one strange thing will strike you: in the men’s bathroom at every club, you’ll see the same stickers of bands who have previously passed through.

Be it in Buffalo, Baltimore, or…um, Botswana, there they are: the same stickers promoting the same bands.  Kinda like a guerilla promotion technique.  And another thing will strike you: all the stickers are kind of gross.  And crass.  And un-creative.  Y’know, big, bold white font on a black sticker.  Very uncompelling. Whatever.

This deep pearl of wisdom occurred to me when I saw the colorful, evocative, and yes, beautiful sticker designs on StickerMule- a fun and affordable maker of custom stickers.  These stickers won’t make you angry.  They are not your grandfather’s stickers!!

StickerMule Home

Bottom line: StickerMule is the easiest way to buy custom stickers.  Their specialty is die cut stickers that are cut to the shape of your design with extraordinary precision.  So, if the sticker is a banana then they’ll get a banana-shaped sticker, as opposed to a rectangle sticker with a picture of a banana on it.  Ditto if it were, say, the shape of a pear.  Or a pineapple.  Or, heck, or the shape of Indonesia!  They aspire to be every startups’ favorite sticker printing service, and to the extent we at SlapStart are esteemed purveyors of taste-making, they get two rousing thumbs up.

So, the home page is bound to grab your attention.  (I mean, there’s a sticker of Frankenstein-Elvis for goodness sakes.)  On the bottom, we see there are three main offerings: custom stickers, die-cut stickers, and custom skins (y’know, for your iPod or whatever.)  I clicked on the first option, and was taken to a page where I could further specify what kind of sticker I wanted: rounded-corner stickers, square stickers, circle stickers, die-cut stickers – eight choices in total.  Given the buzz around die-cuts, I chose that.  I was then asked to select a size and quantity, and then was prompted to upload artwork.  I had a photo kicking around my desktop and selected it.  Lastly, I was taken to the checkout page.  Easy!

At this juncture, it’s important to note that your credit card isn’t charged unless you are happy.  You see, StickerMule creates a proof for you to review. You approve your proof online or request changes, and then – and only then – are you charged.  And they’ll fix any problems for free.  Shipping is free too.

This easy ordering process is also identical for the other, aforementioned stickers: the die-cuts and the skins.  In fact, they’ve got all kinds of skins.  Skins for iPads, iPhones, iPods, laptops, Kindles – everything but skins for your dentures (you really shouldn’t be leaving them around like that.)

StickerMule Products

But of course, the smoothest customer experience in the world is only worth so much – it’s the finished product that counts. And from what I saw, the stickers were almost – dare I say it – artistic. It’s an important philosophical distinction, actually.  Stickers, by their nature, are somewhat invasive and blunt.  They shout at you, “Hey check me out!” after invading your private space.  Like Darryl, the uninvited dinner guest who hogs the cornbread, won’t wipe is face, and refuses to leave.  He’s the worst.

StickerMule’s stickers are more like, say, Pablo, the elegant Brazilian Physics Phd student.  You didn’t really notice him there, but now you’re pretty stoked.  He’s polite, he offers to wash the dishes, taught your grandma how to salsa dance, and is chiseled like a golden god.  Perhaps that’s because, like Pablo’s bronzed Mediterranean complexion, StickerMule’s stickers are made from the highest quality materials available: extra thick (6 mil) vinyl with a study paper backing.

But I digress.

Ultimately, StickerMule’s sticker printing offerings, particularly its die cut stickers are tasteful, catchy, and a wonderful idea for anybody looking to promote their brand: a start-up, a band, pretty much anyone who has to market something.  They re-invent the idea of the sticker, and in a very good, aesthetically pleasing way.  Its friendly designer gurus on the back end make creating custom stickers a breeze, and navigationally speaking, ordering them is a breeze.

So the next time you’re playing an empty room in Anniston, Alabama, trapped in a stark existential abyss and depressingly gazing at those abrasive, gnarly stickers in the urinal, rest assured there’s another path. An inventive and compelling sticker-path, forged by the overall-clad trail-blazers of StickerMule.

Also, after show, if you’re able to do laundry, do it.  Wash those socks.  They really stink up the van.


SmarterU: Continuous Learning

There are many secrets to success. Constant improvement, networking with the right people, and hard work are all cited as key ingredients to achieving one’s goals. My particular expertise is showing up, which occasionally results in good things happening. Being a bit on the silver tongued side, it’s sometimes easier to be smooth than to strictly adhere to the classic tried and true methods. Who am I kidding. It’s a lot easier to talk your way into things than it is jumping through all the appropriate hoops.

There’s one hoop that should never be forgotten about though- continuous learning. Constantly improving oneself is not only important to one’s success in business, it’s important to ones overall success in life. Feeding your mind with new ideas, concepts, and information is the only way to maintaining one’s intellectual edge. To achieve this people rely on books, classes, and online resources.

SmarterU Home

The online space is full of materials of varying quality. Sifting through it can return the information you’re looking for, and sometimes confounded rhetoric. Providing a new resource for cost effective online learning is SmarterU. It’s a fully featured online training platform that allows for people to both provide training materials and to access them. It’s a platform for elearning for everyone.

As a learner SmarterU is simple. Just register for free, select the class you would like, and follow through the course to completion. Some classes are free and other are for a fee set by the person that created it. The courses themselves can include a full set of multi media material including audio, video, animation, and their trademarked SmarterGamesTM. This is a set of interactive learning tools that are customizable by the course instructor to boost comprehension. The courses also contain conventional teaching tools including text, PDFs, and tests.

For teachers and subject matter experts SmarterU provides exactly the platform they need for building online learning courses. They earn 85% of all fees incurred (less video bandwidth charges). Courses can be used in a variety of capacities including creating advanced training courses for your software or product as an add-on sale, introductory courses for your clients to begin building the relationship, or offering a certification programs. We’re considering coming up with the SlapStart certification program, “How to use wit, charm, and hypnosis to propel your career to a higher place.” It’s bound to be a top seller.


Once the course is built you can designate supervisors to help with course management. This helps manage the teacher workload for particularly popular courses. Also, similar courses can be packaged together. This gives teachers more control over how their courses are distributed as they can be sold separately or as a bundle. Examples might be a series on database configuration and access, or how to give a sales presentation. Course supervisors can view the progress of their students and track test scores. They can also send them direct messages to help them along the way.

SmarterU makes sense for every business or industry. The ease with which courses can be set up and deployed can quickly allow you to convey information. Also, offering a training program is a clear way to establish yourself as an expert. It immediately helps build credibility and can lead to increased sales.

Being successful requires long and sustained hard work. Along the way there’s learning, working, networking, and some good fortune too. The gift of gab definitely comes in handy as well. Regardless of the specific goal education is central to the success of one’s endeavors. Whether you’re looking for more information on a topic or an expert who’s able to teach, SmarterU can help you do it.


Say Mmm: The Battle of the Borscht

Having European friends comes with many advantages. They have better taste in style, a different view on life, and are familiar with a variety of cuisine experiences. One particularly friend of mine makes the best borscht and also a cabbage, carrot, and buckwheat dish. After much persuasion and some looking over her shoulder I finally found out the recipe for the buckwheat, cabbage and carrot dish. I even figured out the extra ingredient that she wouldn’t tell me (butter!). Much to her chagrin, after a few failed attempts I finally perfected its preparation. As a last holdout for her culinary pride, she still won’t tell what it’s called. She does begrudgingly admit that my preparation of it is comparative to hers. Begrudgingly.

This culinary contest comes to a screeching halt when it comes to her borscht. Though I know the name this time, I know little of her recipe. To be sure, I’ve grown to be a big fan of borscht and can eat the leftovers for days. Whenever she makes it I frequent their house much more often. Regardless of my efforts, the possibility of learning her recipe seems fairly bleak at this point.

Say Mmm

Even if I did get the prized recipe it would still lead to another issue- having to make a list of the many ingredients and buying them at the store. Moreover, as much as I enjoy borscht for days on end, eventually one prefers to eat something different. Planning for all this in one shopping trip can be a nuisance. I recall a friend and I once cooked Thanksgiving dinner for a large group of people. We ended up going to the store around forty seven times. It’s easy to forget things at the store and to have to go back.

Now there’s a way to plan for all one’s meals and for the shopping trip required to make them happen, with Say Mmm. Say Mmm is an online meal planning service. It provides a dynamic way to plan meals, shop for them, and organize your recipes. It works by allowing you to select or add dishes along with their recipes. Once they’re added you can schedule your meals for the upcoming day, week, or month. And for shopping it will automatically generate grocery lists so you know what you need to pick up at the store. These lists are mobile accessible and even tell you what store you need to go to.

The basic functions are fairly straightforward. Since the system knows all the recipes the grocery lists are readily generated once you plan the meals. Meal plans are marked on a calendar. Recipes are organized by category or alphabetically so they’re easy to find. There’s also a social and sharing aspect to it as well. You have the ability to share recipes with your friends (wishful thinking for borscht enthusiasts), or post comments to a shared comment board. There’s also a dining option where you can add restaurants and indicate your plan to eat out. The system is integrated with Google Maps which brings up local restaurants for you to search and add. This allows you to create a full schedule of your dining plans both in and out.

Say Mmm also comes with a plus option that you can upgrade to. This includes price tracking, calorie counting, and more recipe options. It’s a nominal $3/month.

Organize Recipes

Eating is a huge part of our lives. Most of us are fortunate enough to partake in it every single day. The reality is quite often we hardly plan for it at all. We walk through the grocery store and pick whatever products are strategically placed to entice us to purchase. Our recipes are then derived from what we have in the cupboard. Say Mmm helps you get organized with every aspect of your dining experience so you can plan for your meals and better monitor your diet. It can’t help you coax secret recipes out of those withholding them, but it can help you with everything else about meal planning.


PosterMyWall: Create Customized Posters and Collages

News flash!  Computers and digital technology have killed off many wonderful, old-school analog products. Anybody remember VHS tapes?  Or Polaroid pictures?  (Anybody?)  And with the explosion of e-books, Kindle, and the iPad, someday we may even ask the same thing about books.  Like, “Grandpa, what were books?”

There are other “legacy” mediums, however, which are inherently immune from the digital menace.  Some, in fact, can even thrive.  Like, say, posters.  For as long as sad office workers require platitude-laden inspiration, or teenagers sleep indoors, posters aren’t going away anytime soon.  In fact, with user-friendly tools like PosterMyWall, posters are perfectly and pleasantly poised (!) to enjoy a digitally-assisted renaissance.

PosterMyWall Home

PosterMyWall is a custom collage and poster maker that enables users to create posters and collages using your photos or your friends’ Facebook albums.  These high-quality posters can be up to three feet tall, and users can choose from free backgrounds or create their own.  With prices starting at $7.50, it’s a fun and affordable way to commemorate those memorable (Daytona Beach ’93!!!) and not-so-memorable (Daytona Beach ’94!!!) moments for all of eternity – and perhaps beyond.

The home page is complemented by a Flash slideshow of sample posters and collages.  What struck me about the slideshow was the diversity of the work, ranging from the serious and family-oriented, to the JPS (“just plain silly.”)  As you’ll see, user-customization is the operative word here, and that’s a good thing.

PosterMyWall enables you to browse from dozens of neat poster backgrounds, which are also organized by category (Family Collage, Fantasy, Music, Travel, etc.)  Meanwhile, the Public Gallery contains dozens of posters created using PosterMyWall – very stimulating food-for-thought for would-be poster-makers seeking inspiration.  Again, the diversity was wonderful.  Posters ranged from tender family-stuff to the romantic to styles that almost bordered on pop art.  Clearly there’s a lot of fun to be had here.

Sufficiently intrigued, I felt like creating (which is rare, because I generally prefer to destroy).  I had two options: the poster maker or the collage maker. I chose the former, officially known as the Poster Builder.  I was first prompted to select an orientation.  I was initially appalled – I mean, I’m straight and very secure with it, but how is that relevant to making a poster? – only to realize they meant the paper orientation: portrait or landscape.  Next, I was asked to select a type of background for my poster: Facebook Instacollage, Image background (e.g. their templates), a background I upload myself, or a solid or color-fade background.  I choice option #2 – I wanted to use their templates – and I chose a beachy-themed background.  It’s like I stepped into a Corona commercial, hombre.  All that was left was the customization.

PosterMyWall Background

Now I’m not an expert with image-enhancing software like a Photoshop or whatnot – back on the farm we were a strict Microsoft Paint family – but it didn’t matter when it came to actually designing the thing.  The interface was crisp and easy-to-use and the canvas, as it were, was extremely intuitive.  There I could add a photo, text, change the background, or upload something from Flickr.  Upon completion, I could save it and return to it later, download it, or share it with friends.  Lastly, of course, I could purchase it (check out their prices on their home page.)

What’s also super-neat is their aforementioned collage maker that – you guessed it – pulls photos from your Facebook photo album.  Simply select an orientation (portrait or landscape), select photos from Facebook, and you’re off and running.

So, all in all, a wonderfully stimulating – and dare I say it, potentially addictive – platform in which to make custom posters or collages of your choosing.  And it is precisely because PosterMyWall provides this wonderful creative and user-centric platform that, of course, the poster won’t go the way of the dodo.  Those antiquated, long-gone analog formats were static, immutable, and not interactive: PosterMyWall is the exact opposite.  By providing simple, easy-to-use collage maker and poster maker tools, PosterMyWall lets users put their distinctive imprint on – forgive me for this – “memories that will last a lifetime.”

In fact, come 2049, your grandkid, after asking “What were books?” will then likely ask, “Wait, you mean when you were young, there was a time when you couldn’t make your own posters?  Lame!”

Then he’ll get on his hoverboard and hover away.


VipID: Introducing the Amazing Introductions

They say you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. What people think of you upon first meeting goes a long way. Why this is we’ll leave to the social scientists to debate. The fact remains that people only have one chance to make a positive lasting impact on those they meet. This can be cause for trepidation or a great opportunity. Some people spend long hours on personal care, unwilling to leave the house unless they’re completely dressed up.

When it comes to the online world the ability to make a first impression is much more limited. All people have to go on is your username, email address, or maybe a photo. This doesn’t really go that far one way or the other. There’s no grand announcement or proclamation of the coming entry of an important person.

Filling the void of personifying our introductions is VipID, (found at iVipID.com per note above). Now, we should clarify that they fill a void that isn’t currently impacted right now. That’s because they make a unique and innovative product- a custom video introduction designer. In just a few minutes you can create brief video introductiona that are bound to amaze and dazzle all who view it.

The way it works is simple. There are a series of video templates from which you can choose. These templates are what make VipID special. They have 3D animated graphics with catchy audio. Some of them are derived from familiar themes and tunes. Each has a series of customizable options. These allow you to add 3D animated text to your video. The result is leaps and bounds better than any 2D video. You have to see it to believe it. Presenting, my new introduction video. (removed per note above.)

Now that you’re all standing in full applause, I’m sure you understand the power of such an introduction. It’s a little bit goofy, a little bit funny, but it sticks with you. The secret sauce behind VipID is that it’s not built solely by web developers but rather by those with decorated portfolios in visual effects. Their staff has worked on multiple blockbuster movies and is active in the 3D animation world. The end result is a series of eye catching themes that are bound to set you apart from the rest of the crowd.

VipID Home

VipID has a limited free offering. This gives you up to three 480×270 videos just for signing up. To upgrade it runs on a points system, which allows access to as many videos as you like and at higher resolutions. The maximum is 1920×1080. The downloadable formats are FLV and mp4. Depending on which point package you buy and what quality of video you select, it comes down to a couple bucks per video. Most themes can be used with the free option, and a few are restricted to paid videos. This is likely a result of the excess processor time those videos take to render. Anyone who’s worked with video processing knows it’s a very expensive process from a CPU standpoint. If you’re looking to cause your computer to crash just install video processing software and render a couple videos. Unless you have a state of the art system it will bring everything to a sluggish halt. VipID server will likely be working overtime to keep up with the rendering schedule.

In a world where personality is masked by usernames, profile pics, and email addresses, it’s hard to make a good impression with people. VipID gives you that opportunity. It lets you reach out across the world and put a smile on people’s face. After all, making people laugh is the best way to make a first impression. For whatever purpose, be it personal, or for any other cause, VipID gives you the tools to make an intro video that will stand out.

After an internal shake up VipID has moved to iVipid. It’s great the core project was able to continue.


MemoryAide: For the Forgetful

I remember interviewing for a job that created software systems to help the elderly with their memories. This company built expensive computer systems that would put senior citizens through child like memory exercises in order to retain their faltering ability to remember. I was a little suspicious of the actual utility of such a tool so I told them my required salary was no less than $350K. (Dramatization, actual figure may have varied.) In any case, I quoted them high to avoid working for a company that seemed to bilk seniors out of their life savings.

There’s an entire market of memory aides for those of us whose memories are still relatively intact. These come in the form of post-it notes, alarms, calendars, or the constant nagging of one’s significant other. Though having concerned people in your life can help you remember import tasks, sometimes you need to make sure you remember something all on your own. While most online calendars come with email reminders, there’s something about having a phone call or text message to wake us from our procrastinating slumber. For this, there’s MemoryAide– a new reminder system that allows you to schedule phone, text, or email reminders.

MemoryAide Home

MemoryAide requires no registration. Anybody can set up email, phone or text reminders just by navigating to the home page. Phone and text reminders cost money to send and are thus managed on a credit system. All users are given ten for free. This gives people the chance to test the service without creating an account. Note that these can be tracked by both cookies and phone number which allows the service to be used without registering. Emails reminders are always free and unlimited.

The process of setting up a reminder is as simple as selecting the type of reminder you’d like, indicate the destination email or phone number, and then selecting the time and date. Once scheduled it’s just a matter of waiting for the notification to arrive. Reminders come promptly on time. The phone reminders have a snooze feature if you’d like to automatically reschedule it for an hour later.

Registering comes with some helpful extra features. First is the opportunity to purchase more credits. This allows you to carry on the phone and text reminders on an ongoing basis. Next is the dialing option. This feature allows you to have it automatically dial another phone number to connect you after your phone call reminder. Let’s say you set up a reminder to call your spouse for your anniversary. You can set up a regular phone reminder, and then add them as a contact to call directly after the reminder. It will then dial their phone number and connect you. This is particularly helpful if you set a reminder to call someone you don’t frequently contact. You can schedule the reminder with the dialing option so you don’t have to go looking for their number. Finally, registering keeps a record of all your reminders and allows you to modify or delete upcoming ones.

MemoryAide Reminders List

Whether you’d like to schedule a reminder to go to the store, remember an important date, or schedule a call to escape the company of your in-laws, MemoryAide is a tool to help. Its simple and easy service makes setting up reminders easy. Some people rely on post-it notes, others take a calendar with them everywhere they go, and some need the phone to ring. In all these cases, MemoryAide will be your reminder.


Formspider: Dynamic Application Framework

Building a website is both easy, and hard. It’s easy because at the end of the day HTML isn’t that difficult. What’s more, you can skip it altogether and display raw text in the browser without it. On the other end of the spectrum are fully functional web applications. These require HTML, CSS, Javascript, AJAX, server side programming, sysadmin, and approximately two and a half miracles in order to bring it online.

Even with such a lengthy list of required skills, it’s still not that hard to build a site. With a little practice you’ll get the hang of the various constructs and piece them together. Once it’s finally built, you’ll view it in a browser such as FireFox. Just to double check you try it in Internet Explorer or Chrome, and it won’t look right. The windows will be misaligned; some functions won’t work at all. Countless web developers have encountered lack of browser compatibility and had to rework the code for hours on end until all the browser quirks are fixed.

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Due to the complexity brought on by all these factors many a website framework has been born. These tools help automate the redundant parts of web development. For instance many sites have forms and then have the need to verify the information entered in those forms. Frameworks provide prebuilt tools to speed up various portions of web development. These frameworks are most typically language and platform specific. Each lends themselves to a particular purpose. To name a few, WordPress is for blogs and is sometimes utilized as a backbone for more complex sites. Joomla is a more robust and fully featured content management system. Both of these are built on PHP and have a limited range of how and where they can be deployed.

Bypassing this entirely is Formspider (found at theformspider.com). It’s a new framework that takes a revolutionary approach to application development. With Formspider you can build an entire application with PL/SQL. Once set up it’s translated into an application where all the details are filled out by Formspider. What this means is that all you have to do is describe your product with PL/SQL and it takes care of the rest. AND, since Formspider allows you to design the application at such a high level, it’s not limited to creating web applications. Currently you can deploy it to both the web and windows desktop application. In fact, in the future they may build UI libraries to deploy applications on Flash, iOS, Android, Silverlight, or any yet to be released technology that comes along. All from the same PL/SQL code base.

For those who don’t know, PL/SQL is the procedural language for Oracle’s best of brand database. Although the ethic of Oracle’s shrewd CEO can sometimes be a bit suspect, the quality of their flagship product, the database, is not. It’s as reliable as they come for commercial products.

The rich internet applications built with Formspider can have many features. These include basic layouts, forms, and charts. Formspider relies exclusively on AJAX to make database calls. What this means is the page doesn’t reload in order to make changes. Updates to the page are made asynchronously with the database as the user navigates. (The A in AJAX comes from ‘asynchronous.’) This makes for a smooth user experience and professional looking website.

Formspider provides default themes which you can modify. If you prefer you can also upload your own stylesheets to reflect any design you like. Also, the tool is web based, so it’s completely portable. Just to be sure everything was working correctly, Formspider used their own product to build their IDE. This is no trivial task actually. I worked for a company that attempted to use their product for an internal project. It wasn’t long before we were longing for the third party version we were using before.

FormSpider App builder
FormSpider App builder

One other aspect about Formspider is they didn’t forget to charge for it. In fact, by our best recollection it’s the single most expensive product we’ve reviewed. As would be expected by a product born by Oracle gurus, it costs a pretty penny. The fee is based upon the edition of your Oracle Database and ranges from $1000 to $10,000. This is a product for serious development teams. Fortunately, the developer license is free so you can try before you buy to make sure it’s the right choice for your team.

Formspider provides a best of brand cross-platform rich internet application framework. They do all the hard work so you don’t have to. No more studying up on the nuances of getting AJAX calls to work in both IE and FireFox. No more fussing with JavaScript or any of the other code. Just brush up on your PL/SQL skills and you’re all set. Given the likelihood that new versions of the product will be able to make applications for an increasing number of OSes, the one time fee could start paying huge dividends. It can save time during application development and can produce a better product. With Formspider, top notch AJAX enabled websites can finally be built with relative ease.

(Anybody have ten grand they’d like to lend me?)