Monthly Archives: September 2004

Frustrating around the edges

I’ve had my PowerBook G4 for about two years now, and overall, it’s been fantastic — the best laptop I’ve ever had.

Recently, though, I’ve been attaching more and more peripherals as I set up more of an official home office… and things aren’t working so well at the edges.

My setup includes:

  • Viewsonic 201mb monitor (1600×1200)
  • Lacie Bigger Disk (firewire)
  • D-link bluetooth USB card
  • Logitech external mouse
  • Apple bluetooth keyboard

The following problems seem to be unrelated, but collectively are driving me completely crazy:

  • Probably one out of every two times I connect the external monitor to the laptop, a thin line of fluorescent pixels appears at the top of the display, and gradually gets worse until the entire screen is shaking. I can fix it by disconnecting and reconnecting multiple times (often 4-5x), and once it works, it works for days.
  • The la cie drive seems to be causing random crashes when it’s being accessed. It’s bringing down the whole computer, and requiring a restart. Seems to be more common when playing music.
  • I have the mouse, bluetooth adapter and printer all connected through the monitor’s built-in USB hub. Every once in a while, it won’t power any of the peripherals. The only thing that seems to work is just disconnecting and reconnecting multiple times.

Has anyone else experienced any of this?

Out Of Whack (part II)

Twice this month, I’ve started a pot of coffee — put in the filter, ground the beans, filled it with water — then turned the machine on without making sure the coffee pot is in place to receive the coffee.

Which leads us to an essential dilemma: You clearly shouldn’t attempt anything before having coffee in the morning. But to have coffee, you must first make coffee. Hmmm…

Out Of Whack (part I)

The joys of living in old housing… Christine and I built some shelves in my our apartment last weekend. They came out quite well, but when we put the first wood plank on the top, we immediately noticed that something looked off:

shelves1.jpg

So which is straight: the shelves, or the ceiling?

Here’s a closeup of the level sitting on the top shelf in the first picture:

straight.jpg

QuickBase Reviewed in PC Magazine

Overall, QuickBase’s slick set of databases for important workgroup tasks and its high usability are its standout selling points. If you don’t need to update an existing corporate database in real time, it is a useful and inexpensive choice for keeping workgroup users up to date on project, sales, and custom data.

Full Review

Web services and lock-in

The always-interesting Jon Udell posts about next-generation web services and data lock-in. It’s a topic we’ve considered at length at QuickBase, a web service that revolves entirely around helping customers make better use of their data.

Sure, it’s partly the nature of our service, but we’ve never considered not making it easy for customers to get their data out. We provide them with a number of different ways — either by saving to CSV, XML or programmatically through our HTTP API. Every page displaying more than one record has a “Save to spreadsheet” command.

We do this for two reasons:

  1. It’s a selling point.
    When you’re trying to convince customers to entrust you with their data and their applications, the idea that “you can always get it back out” is very comforting.
  2. If you’re really doing your job as a product, “lock-in” is about much more than holding customers’ data hostage.
    Typically, our customers use QuickBase to manage some kind of of process. It could be about running an event, managing an issues list, or running a project. Our customers get addicted when their process becomes embedded in QuickBase — through the email notifications they set up, the views they create, and the permissions they set up. They can always take their data somewhere else, but they lose the way their team can work with it. That’s the value QuickBase adds.

Ultimately, as a subscription service, we’re earning our customers money again each month. But if you’re really confident in the value your product creates, you know that “lock-in” happens when your customers can’t imagine working any other way.