Mobile friendly or not? Here’s a great resource

Should you be investing in your website to make it more ‘mobile friendly’?

The simple answer is undoubtedly YES.  The market for smartphones and tablets is exploding.  A study on cell phone usage by the Pew Research Center, published in the spring of 2011, stated: “One third of American adults (35%) own a smartphone of some kind, and these users take advantage of a wide range of their phones’ capabilities. . . . eight in ten use their phone to go online.”  By October of the same year, a Nielson study claimed, while “only [italics mine] 43 percent of all US mobile phone subscribers own a smartphone . . . the vast majority of those under the age of 44 now have smartphones. In fact, 62 percent of mobile adults aged 25-34 report owning smartphones. And among those 18-24 and 35-44 years old the smartphone penetration rate is hovering near 54 percent.”

But how bad is your site right now?  What do you need to do to make it better?  And what’s it going to cost in time and money?

Continue Reading →

DOT Placards celebrates 10,000 downloads

Transportation Placards

Version 1.0 of our DOT Placards product was released on 3 September, 2010. Today I checked in Android Developers Console and saw it has crossed the 10,000 download threshold. Huzzah!

The Android Marketplace doesn’t publish exact download numbers for consumers to see. Rather, it reports downloads as being within ranges such as < 10, 50-100, 1,000-5,000 and so on. But the bands get bigger as the counts go up. It gets to be a bigger and bigger deal to cross each threshold.

We’ve been in 5,000-10,000 band for a long time and, for a time, were stalling out a bit on attracting new users. Then we removed the ads feature. Showing ads had never done anything for revenue, had probably annoyed some users, and required extra permissions at app install time. Taking them out was a great decision.

Many thanks to Mark, whose brainchild the product was, and to Hokan, who built it.

Brad Pitt as a Quantum Leader

I experienced a tidy patch of synchronicity last week.
First, I worked my way through the Crisis Management chapter in the Quantum Leadership book I’m reading.  Second, I dragged my husband to the theater to see Moneyball, the new Brad Pitt movie about Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s baseball team.  Then, in quick succession, I had the opportunity to see a preview of Windows 8 on a slate computer and  Amazon announced its new Kindle line-up, including the Fire, a heavily customized Android tablet.

Quantum’s take on crisis management is, essentially, “Get used to it.  Get better at it.  Stop thinking of it as something you only do from time to time.” Continue Reading →

The end of our Hokan era

Today was the last work day here for my young colleague and friend Hokan.  Hokan came to us as a high school student and stayed for what you might call his ‘gap year’.

In that time, Hokan has had some role in every product we’ve published, every web site we’ve put up, most of the sys admin work we’ve done, and many of our consulting projects.  To say that he is a bright, versatile, and talented young man is to laughably understate the case.

We know that he needs to move on to his next adventure and wish him well.  I, personally, will miss him enormously.  But he has left us with some great foundations — code, process, and infrastructure — to build on.

Thank you, Hokan!


Computational Complexity and the Data Quality State

At the end of last week, I afforded myself the treat of attending the second annual Wyoming Biotech Conference. This event is seriously off-topic for me, having nothing to do with my start-up software company’s current focus on building mobile apps for field data collection and problem reporting. But it’s a great thing to get out of the office and hear directly from people going after Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals, especially in fields far away from one’s own. And, to be honest, Wyoming operates a bit like a small company, with our academics and government employees wearing many hats, so even at an ‘off topic’ conference, one can do a lot of useful networking.

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Healthcare, software, politics

Quantum Leadership 3rd Edition

Cover of the 3rd Edition

I’ve just started to work my way through a textbook on the healthcare industry called Quantum Leadership:  A Resource for Health Care Innovation by O’Grady and Malloch.  My good friend Denise recommended it to me the other day.  She’s a masters-qualified RN and the book was a required text in a course she took a couple of years ago.

It’s a sign of how much I respect her that I would voluntarily buy and try to read a 460+ page college textbook.  (The current, 3rd, edition is 500+ but I bought a used copy of the 2nd edition so my copy would match hers.)  In our previous professional lives, Denise and I were co-founders, along with several others, of a moderately successful bootstrapped software company.  And I have learned that, when she says something is useful to know and think about, I should pay attention.

Denise is not the only person I respect who draws parallels between the healthcare and software industries and their practitioners.   Continue Reading →

Kudos, regrets, apologies, and lessons learned

Please note that this post will make no sense at all if you haven’t looked at my original piece on Noah Kagan’s talk at MicroConf 2011.


Let’s get one thing out on the table right now: Frank Denbow is a kind, thoughtful, and gracious man. I didn’t identify him in my original piece but
since he self-identified over on the Hacker News thread about it, I’ll just quote him here:

(I was the guy in front scraping hot sauce off my computer/bag/clothes after you threw the bottle up front) Continue Reading →

Noah Kagan and the Faceless Bitch slide

A month ago, I attended MicroConf2011, a great little conference for self-funded software startups.  I got a lot out of the conference and have already written positively about the experience.  One big change in my own behavior since coming home has been to work harder at connecting with customers and prospects and getting real, honest feedback from them.  It’s relatively hard to do this when selling through the quite anonymous app marketplaces but I’ve already had one eye-opening success at engaging with a user community and am laying the groundwork now for another.

It is in that spirit of getting and giving honest feedback that I’ve finally decided to write about the one really negative experience I had at MicroConf:  a talk given by Noah Kagan.  Continue Reading →

Wyoming goes Google

Google AppsWyoming is a great place to have a business:  no corporate or personal income taxes, a GREAT Secretary of State office, low bureaucracy all around, and a overall pragmatic approach to life and work often expressed as “git’er done.”

The State of Wyoming’s Executive branch just took one of these pragmatic steps and became the first state in the nation to ‘go Google’ and move to Google Apps for Government from a hodgepodge of ?13? (that’s what I heard on the radio anyway) different, incompatible email and office platforms.  Check out this article from for details.

We use Google Apps here at SPG and are very happy with everything but the spreadsheets.  The email is GREAT!  The Word equivalent is capable, fast, and has a wickedly useful group editing capability that has consistently helped us when we’re trying to do things like hammer out  task lists with the remote interns.  The only app I’ve had any dissatisfaction with is the Excel substitute.  It’s slow, the features for auto-saving and sharing with others aren’t quite the same as the doc features that work so well, and overall it just seems cumbersome to use.  None of that is a huge issue for us.  We don’t use spreadsheets as much as email/docs and I’ve got that handy copy of Excel sitting on one of my old machines for when I need it.  So, assuming the state hasn’t done something silly like go through and uninstall all the copies of Office that were already on employee’s machines, I expect that the State number crunchers will do ok  until the Apps spreadsheet feature is improved.


SPG Summer of Code is well underway

Sneak peak at the new HazMat Placards Plus appI’ve been remiss in not writing anything yet about the ‘Summer of Code’ thing we have underway right now.

We have two great interns, Sara and Zack,  working remotely this summer building phone apps and, in parallel, employees Hokan and Matt are working hard on new phone apps here in the Sheridan offices as well.  The bit of eye candy to the right is a screenshot Matt sent in yesterday of his progress so far to get HazMatPlacardsPlus running in the emulator on his development machine.

As always, in a startup, we’re trying to accomplish at least a couple of things at the same time: 1) get more product out into the marketplaces and 2) work out our tools, processes, and systems for utilizing short-term and/or remote technical resources.

There was a really interesting post and exchange of comments on the Hubspot blog earlier this year about how hard it is to find great developers in the Boston area.   Continue Reading →