Stand By...

2008-05-08 20:00:00 -0400

Over the past few months we've been getting a lot of great feed back from users of Tempo, we've been squashing bugs, and we've been working really hard on a number of new features and service integrations. We've also been continuously striving to streamline the interface and make it even easier to use.

This Sunday, May 11th, from 9pm to 12am Eastern, Tempo will be offline while we perform the latest batch of updates -- this is a big one! Stay tuned...

P.S. During the same time period, PingMe will be unavailable for system maintenance -- no pings will be sent and the web interface will be unavailable.

New User Interface Changes for Tempo

2008-04-24 20:00:00 -0400

We’ve been hard at work improving the user interface in Tempo. Some of these changes came out of fielding questions from our users, some came out of feature requests, and some are born out of how we use Tempo, and our desire to get more out of the app for our own business purposes. In particular we’ve noticed that the charting capabilities didn’t seem as evident as we’d like them to be, and we were beginning to feel that the heads-up-display (we call it the HUD) could be made far more useful at a glance if we tweaked some of the stats available.

First things first, we got rid of the jelly beans, and changed the stats boxes to provide the hours, people, projects and percentage utilization for the current report, along with a spark line graph showing the hours over the given time period:

New hud
Click to embiggen!

Looks like I just got back from a vacation and peaked around Wednesday! If you click the Hours field, you’ll be presented with the Hours Over Time graph, if you click the People field, you’ll get the pie chart break down of People by Hours, clicking Utilization presents you with our newest graph (I’ll get to that in a second), and clicking the sparkline of hours over time will cause the new Charts display to wipe down from the top menu.

And yup, if you’re looking closely, the top menu did change. Each header wipes down an icon-based menu with your charts, exports and saved reports. Here’s what the Charts display looks like:

Ui Chart

Click to embiggen!

So we should probably talk about the Utilization chart and what that percentage statistic means in the HUD. Showing you the chart first will make explaining it a bit easier:

Ui utilization chart

Click to embiggen!

The Utilization chart is really handy because it shows me very quickly what my time looks like broken down by date, and I can easily spot gaps in my billing (like Monday when I was still on vacation!). The light blue bar across the top between seven and nine hours denotes what you might consider a full work day so you can compare that against your recorded time. The Utilization percentage in the new HUD simply denotes the percentage of time you’ve recorded against the full work day.

As you can see the charts also now have a link in each to our Help section where you can get more information about the chart if you find yourself scratching your head.

Just like Add Entry and Charts wipe down above the HUD, so do Exports and Saved Reports:

Ui exports

Saved Reports

We’ve got some other big changes coming within the next few weeks, including some new integrations with other services that some folks have been asking for, so stay tuned!

PingMe Site Issue

2008-04-19 20:00:00 -0400 experienced a brief service interruption today where the site was temporarily replaced with a copy of Tempo’s homepage. We sincerely apologize to any users that weren’t able to create or modify Pings on the site eariler. Thankfully the delivery of schedule PingMe reminders was not affected at all.

We’ve also been contacted speculating whether we were shutting down or canceling the free PingMe service. Don’t worry PingMe isn’t going anywhere. This problem was the result of a mis-keyed IP address in our web server configuration that crossed traffic between application servers.

Again, we’re very sorry for any inconvenience.

Twitter: This Space For Rent?

2008-04-14 20:00:00 -0400

Pay close attention – we’re about to hand over an idea that could make Twitter…(drum roll, please)…ONE MILLION DOLLARS.

We saw this today on Tech Crunch (which has since been refuted):

Occasional ads in the Twitter timeline … seems like the only real way to monetize Twitter, aside for premium subscriptions.

It’s an interesting idea. We have long thought that the destined revenue model for Twitter is a new means of advertising where miniature ads will be injected at the end of Tweets.

Your messages on Twitter are restricted to 140 characters. This leaves 20 extra spaces, possibly a lot more with short tweets, before hitting the SMS limit of 160 characters. That reserve is perfect for advertising. We’ve been calling it meme-vertising and we’ve been doing it with our own service PingMe for well over a year – we use it to advertise our own services.

Here’s how it works – we reserve 30 characters in every message that goes out, just enough space to jam a quick meme or ad in there. Anything goes, from Keep Time with to “Real men of genius,” if Budweiser decided to buy a block of impressions.

Unconvinced? Twitter’s ad space would be virtually unbounded because the impressions are based on relationships, not page views. Consider that when Michael Arrington sends out one tweet alone, it could provide 13,104 impressions. In the end someone has to pay for a service, especially given the usurious cost of sending and receiving SMS messaging, and nothing stands a better chance of getting Twitter into the black than this virtually umlimited adspace that they possess.

We suggested last week that there’s also money to be made offering business-level service and there is certainly revenue potential with putting ads in the timeline. Yet, I would wager that many Twitter users access the service with a third-party API client and wouldn’t see them. I certainly don’t think that Twitter would abuse their relationship with users by sending pure spam-tweets to your phone or device. We frankly can’t see a better way for Twitter to make loads of money than to use the enormous advertising potential already present in its tweets.

Is it intrusive? To a degree. Although, in the year that we’ve been running PingMe we haven’t had a single complaint, and I think you can see here how it can be done without being an eye-sore:

meme sample

Note: we haven’t yet taken on third-party advertisers for PingMe, but at some point we’d like to. Let us know if you’re a local bar that might like to have “1/2 price drnx at Moe’s 6-8” show up at the end of a reminder about “Happy hour with Frank tonight at 5.”

We’re on Twitter, too, follow us at: @billymeltdown and @ocskills

Monetizing Twitter for Business

2008-04-10 20:00:00 -0400

We’ve seen mention on a few sites about the potential for Twitter to monetizing their service by charging businesses for mobile interfaces. The case study they quote is a mobile interface for

We think that it’s great that more companies are exploring mobile interfaces like this. Our own small business time tracking system Tempo also
excels at
mobile entry, letting our users record time through Twitter, iPhone, SMS, mobile web, and even desktop mail (much of this functionality is borrowed from
PingMe, a mobile app from birth). While the idea of Twitter as a mobile command line is not new, its always great to see more tools embrace the idea.

So, with a constantly expanding list of services like
Harvest ,
all using Twitter, it would seem reasonable for them to monetize these relationships.

That said, even as a company that loves Twitter and already uses it in our apps, the big concern is reliability. Tweets get dropped or delayed more often than we’d like to admit, default rate limits can cause issues, web service calls can cause delays, and the APIs don’t provide scalability to really large numbers of messages. When the service is free these aren’t show stoppers. If charges are involved it’s a different ball-game.

If Twitter were to pursue the monetization strategy the right move would be to provide a dedicated business service. Include guaranteed delivery, improved message processing integrations, dedicated API servers, and quicker processing. This would make the offering very competitive with all of the existing SMS and Text-to-email gateways on the market.

Now that would be worth paying for.