Salient business advice from Seth Godin: If I wasn’t already running my own business, today is the day I’d start one.
Monthly Archives: September 2008
Here, in no particular order, are my very favorite features of Drupal 6.4.
- The administrative interface is built in. This is huge, coming from Rails projects. Most CMS projects come with an admin interface, and even some frameworks (such as Django), but Drupal’s is excellent and comprehensive.
- There are hundreds of high quality, well-maintained “modules” for Drupal, which provide nearly everything you could want. They are easy to install, take care of database updates automatically, and integrate seamlessly with the rest of the website.
- It’s easy for a designer to work with. A designer can build a “theme” for a website, including all images, CSS, and HTML, while someone else is setting up the site and adding content.
- The Devel module gives you a heads-up display like Firebug, but shows you which PHP functions are being called to generate the part of the page you’re looking at.
- It’s well vetted. There’s a huge community, and the software is well understood and runs surprisingly fast, considering all that it’s capable of.
- It’s much easier to find an affordable programmer to help with a Drupal project, and it’s much easier for them to get started, since the bulk of the application framework is always the same. They can focus on writing single modules, rather than digging through your whole project.
Drupal isn’t perfect. Nothing is. But Drupal 6 is an amazing piece of software. It’s come a long way since we last used it, addressing pretty much every concern I’ve had. I think you’ll be hearing quite a bit more from us about this fabulous system!
We’ve been working on cozying up our studio for the Winter and this means quick shopping (online, of course). Now, I’ve never been a coupon clipper (can’t seem to ever find the coupon at the right time anyhow), but the internet makes coupons easy as pie to find right when you need them. I almost never buy from any online retailer without first doing a quick search for the retailer’s name plus the phrase “promo code.” These searches rarely take more than 3 minutes, but can often end up with big discounts. I never click on group promo sites, but rather look for links that show up rankend second through sixth – that’s usually where the good stuff lies.
For example, before purcahsing our new room divider from Chia’sso today, I quick searched chiasso promo code and found a handy code (link #2) that gives 20% off of my entire purchase (and, when buying furniture, this can mean a bundle).
I also purchased a throw pillow and blanket from Design Public today and, when searching for a promo code, the second link was a reminder that they had just sent out a code in their newsletter (wnhich I received, but rarely read far enough down to find the juicy discounts). I quick found the newsletter in my InBox and viola – 10% off and a free subscription to Ready Made magazine for a year!
I can think of nothing more appealing right now than this very image, a mug of Stumptown House Blend along with a mocha macadamia biscotti (kindly sent to us by one of our newest clients, Alicia, on a quick break from baking). Brings a tear to the eye, along with dreams of a cozy Portland Fall that is tantalizingly close.
I’m also brining in Fall this year with this gorgeous (and comfortable) ketchup coat from old-school Needmore client Makool Loves You (who is writing my new favorite fashion blog). MLY is having a trunk show at Seaplane tonight (7-10 PM @ 1919 NW 23rd here in Portland). We’ll be there early – stop in and say hello!
In our quest for an assistant who is a good match for Needmore, we’ve had a rough start. Currently, we’re taking part in a beta test over at TimeSvr. For the time being, you just can’t beat the cost – free. So, if you’ve wondered what having a virtual assistant is like, why not join in the beta trial. We’d love to hear how your experience compares with ours (more on that later).
Google Apps is a service you can use for free or pay for. It’s affordable and very solid, and its killer feature is a Gmail account that you can use for whatever email address at your business you wish. Even with the free plan you get a hundred email addresses with tons of storage, along with a bunch of other Google services. And over time, we’ve found ourselves using them more and more.
Gmail has really won me over. I can’t bear to use a regular desktop email app anymore! First of all, I love that it automatically keeps back-and-forth discussions in one “thread.” This makes it dead simple to look at twenty messages as if it were just one big long conversation, which feels quite natural to me. I also appreciate that you can “label” a conversation, such as “business,” rather than putting it in a folder. While Google treats these labels as folders behind the scenes, it’s much more natural to be able to add several labels to a message, because then you can get more specific. Something might be “business” and also “needmore.”
This really works well when you realize that Gmail keeps the label for a whole conversation. If I’m using the typical desktop email client, and someone replies to my message, it just shows up in my inbox. But with Gmail, if I’ve already given that conversation a label, it keeps it. New messages go right into the same thread and the same folders with the same label. This is very convenient and saves a lot of time messing about with the folders, something I was always loath to do.
None of this means that I can’t get my email in my desktop client, or that I can’t read it on the go with my iPhone. I can, and it still works just as before. Although I have to say, the uptime with Gmail has been far superior to any service provider we have used in the past. And the spam blocking is by far the best I’ve seen. I get the odd spam message, perhaps one a month, but I used to get a dozen or two a day, no matter who our email provider was. That’s huge! Even if I were still using my desktop client, this would be a big deal.
I feel that Gmail still has a way to go, but that’s okay. It’s probably not a one-size-fits-all solution. For example, I’d love to be able to share a discussion thread with Kandace, or add a note to an email. But since I’m avoiding using my email inbox as a todo list these days, that’s fine. There’s no big problem I can’t work around. And having something as fast and reliable as this is really a huge leap forward already.
You know, I was very excited to see Apple’s new MobileMe service. Having both a work and home computer, I really appreciate its sync services, among other things. But the new website is a disappointment. While it looks far better than Google, it’s just the same old thing. It’s just “lipstick on a pig,” as they say. There’s nothing at all innovative about the email client, for example. Gmail is still light years ahead for me in terms of actual usability. And so this is one place I think Apple has really dropped the ball. They can make it as pretty and modern as they want, but once you’ve used Google’s equivalent apps, you see that there’s really no contest.
We’ve just released a new site for Long Beach based photographer absolut beauty. Absolut came to Needmore with an interest in a a site with simplicity of navigation, ease of viewing photography without distraction and, of course, an ability to update images. We created a site that steps out of the way to show off stunning images of landscapes and individuals.
1. Please find a local mover who is able to affordably move just one couch and one chair from our home in SE Portland to our business studio in SE Portland (this is a distance of 5 miles). We are hoping to spend $60 or less. Craigslist (http://www.craigslist.org) may be a good resource for this. We would like the mover to do this work Wednesday, Thursday or Friday of this week if possible. If you find a mover that fits this criteria, please set-up the appointment and let me know when I need to meet them at the house (morning from 8am to 10am would be best).
It appears that my assistant went to Craigslist and put 6 movers into a spreadsheet (many of them not meeting my basic criteria) and sent them to me with the following note:
Hope you are going well today. I have found some of the movers from craigslist. I was not able to contact them because our phone lines here are down. I have attached all the findings on the spreadsheet please have a look at it and advice.
I wrote back and advised that, when the phone lines were up, my assistant should finish the assigned task. I also asked how often the phone lines went down there since this occurring often would put a major kink in my desire to have him call and transcribe my voicemail each day. No response to that inquiry. When I asked again about the phone lines, my assistant noted that this doesn’t happen often and the lines would be up in a matter of days. This was Monday. As of today, the task still hasn’t been finished.
2. Using Quickbooks Online, please run a profit and loss report for August, 2008 and the year 2008 to date. Also, I would like to see a list of customers who have overdue invoices or time that has not been billed yet.
Even after sending my assistant log-ins on two separate occasions, we had quite a bit of back and forth to get him to be able to log-in to our system. He did ultimately send the reports, but the time wasted in getting these from him was much more than running the reports myself. I don’t believe this would have happened with the Sunday service since they have a handy online account administration area where one is able to enter contacts, passwords, frequent flyer account information and a host of helpful information.
3. Please find a good cleaner, in Southeast Portland if possible, who uses natural and planet-friendly materials. Ideal candidate would be able to clean both work studio (monthly) and home (weekly or bi-weekly).
This was the one task that my Sunday assistant got right, so I wanted to see how it went with GetFriday (even though I am happy with the service Sunday found for us). As phone lines are down, my assistant sent me a spreadsheet of cleaners, many of which I know will not clean both my home and office because they had already told Sunday so. I am guessing the phone lines cleared up some time last night because I started getting calls from cleaners around dinner time. It appears that my assistant called each of them and gave them my name and number to call me.
Most of my time spent with GetFriday has been an absolute waste. I am in the extremely frustrating process of attempting to cancel my account with them as I am still in my 7-day trial period. Overall, GetFriday makes Sunday look like a godsend.
We’ve just released our latest edition of Needmore Notes, our (semi) monthly newsletter, with updates on our latest releases and a question about your favorite local charity.
We’ve been thrilled to work with some a handful of artisanal food and drink aficionados, with expertise in coffee roasting and gelato making to cupcake and, most recently, biscotti baking. The New York Times is taking notice of these culinary aficionados as well.
is one of the people who have remade the coffee business, searching the world for the best beans, roasting them with exquisite attention and preparing them to order….He’s forged an outsider identity for himself and his company. He is both selective about and demanding of his wholesale customers, requiring training for anyone who will handle Stumptown’s coffee and commissioning the occasional unannounced spot check.
Throughout our time working with Stumptown, we’ve had the chance to visit their roasters in Portland and Seattle, often taking part in coffee tastings with the roasters. Their passion for coffee is remarkable.
More recently, Dolcezza Artisanal Gelato is highlighted in Move Aside, Frozen Custard, and Make Room for Gelato. They note that
gelato seems to be catching on, joining artisanal coffee, cheese and wine in catching the fancy of food lovers. With less than half the butterfat of regular ice cream, gelato is less fattening and healthier, and its dense, rich flavor and smooth texture can be highly addictive….Robb Duncan and his wife, Violetta, run Dolcezza, a small gelateria in the Georgetown section of Washington that features handmade gelato. They said that in the four years since they opened their shop, their business had grown 700 percent. In response, they have just opened a second location in nearby Bethesda, Md., and also sell pints at local farmers’ markets. “The D.C. market has really responded and was clearly ready for artisanal gelato,” Mr. Duncan said.
We’ll never forget our experience working with Robb at Dolcezza. Robb was adamant that we could not design his site before tasting his gelato, even though we are on the opposite side of the states from him; Robb overnighted us dry-ice packed gelato so that we could understand his product first hand. He wasn’t kidding about the difference ingredients fresh from the farmers’ market can make; this was truly the most flavorful and delightful gelato we’ve tasted. It is passion like this that makes us so excited about web design and we’re thrilled to see these fine folks getting recognized for their incredible products!
Photo credits: New York Times