What people want

2 Drink Minimum” by 500hats
You’ll have to read until the end to find out why I included this photo.

Holly wrote recently that your most passionate users don’t necessarily build the best products. It’s really worth a read.

I think the problem comes from the fact that there is often a large difference between what people say they want, and what people really want.

Forgetting that this difference exists and being insensitive to a customer’s true desires is the source of many mistakes I’ve made and lessons I’ve learned.

What follows is an example of each of those things two things: a mistake and a lesson.

[Michael and me after the jump.]Continue reading

His conversion is almost complete

I used to work with a guy named Haiping, a former developer at Microsoft who was hired just two people before me at Plaxo. He has some crazy C++ skills as well as is pretty damn good at that headshot thing in PC first person shooters. Last time I was in South Bay, I stopped by Plaxo and talked to him. Later that evening, I went to the Facebook Tech Tasting and met him again. Only this time, his tag said “Facebook.” Between those two times he had changed jobs!

The great thing about our former company, is that you get card updates. I like to accept/reject mine over the web interface and read this today. Read his Work Card Message:

My friend Haiping flips his job

A C++ engineer switches to PHP. A windows user switches to Mac. Now all I have to do is convince him to get a Nikon camera. Now all they have to do is port Day of Defeat to the Mac.

Plaxo Holiday borders

A couple days ago, Hong sent me an eCard announcing that Plaxo had the new holiday borders live on the Plaxo eCard site.

Plaxo has new holiday borders

Actually, he used my favorite new border, “snowflake”. Tiffany, Michael, and Martin did the design based on a template that Bill had suggested to me for the flowers border that he did.

(Okay, I also like the “sled” border, but that’s mostly because I had to tweak the rendering algorithm so that the watermark on the preview wouldn’t ruin the dog sled. The other new borders are confetti, giftbox, snowglobe, and pine.)

In my eCards talk, I should fix that slide that explains how I wrote the rendering engine that creates these borders. It’s so simple, but very hard to explain.

By the way, if you want to send one of these cards, go to Plaxo’s new Holiday eCards page, it’s a much more fun start point. (Thanks to Bill Scott and the YUI team for making my life easier.)

Switching to Mac? Use Plaxo

Joseph sent me this article, in which the writer switches from Windows to a new MacBook Pro (the same one I own).

In doing so, he found the easiest way to import his Outlook contacts into Mac OS X Address Book was just by using Plaxo! While he was being tongue-in-cheek, I noticed Derik DeLong uses Plaxo as the Address Book store in a free dotMac service. (Like him, I still pay for my dotMac account, which is a carryover from the old free iTools days.)

Plaxo indeed a great way of importing your contacts between platforms. I use it every day to keep my Windows data in sync with my Macintosh and I can’t wait until the day my iCal calendar can sync with my work’s Exchange server via Plaxo.

Zeroing out my Plaxo account

Drew showed me this nice trick to zero out a Plaxo account (something I need to do a lot because of testing).

Simply go to Manage Folders, Create a new Contacts folder, and then delete the old one.

Resetting your Plaxo account

Warning: I don’t know what happens when you sync down to your desktop client. My solution is to run the Plaxo for Mac Uninstaller (in /Applications/Plaxo), zeroing my account, and then reinstalling Plaxo. This will have my desktop data overwrite Plaxo.

Purpose of Hands

When Drew finished the Mac client for release, I sent an “update request” to all my address book trying to get them to join Plaxo.

The Update Request has them update information in my Address Book, instead of asking them to become a member where the information is updated automatically and they get synchronization between their address books and with my contact information to boot. I wanted the latter but that only happens after the user has already done the former. I’m confused just trying to explain it.

See the problem is that the former benefits just me. The latter benefits them first, and me second.

Buried in the Windows client, there was an invite wizard and with today’s release this is exposed from the website under the campaign: “The Purpose of Hands.” (There is a pretty sophomoric parody on a tag line like that that I thought of while working on these pages—I’m sure you can guess:)

Purpose of hands

Click here to invite others to join Plaxo.
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