Voyeuristic Blogs

I am not sure why but I love looking at sites that show the things or where they work everyday. Sometimes they provide ideas for creativity – insights into new tools – or just plain cool things.

My favorite is The Setup which looks at a wide range of programmers, designers and other peoples computer setups.  And there are no shortage of these sites popping up.

My Bag is Bad Ass is described on the site as

interviews and submissions from people that think their daily computer / work bag is Badass.

Check it out at mybagisbadass.com

Everyday Carry is a collection of pictures of what people are carrying in their pockets every day.  There are some beautiful photos and a wide range of pens, wallets, notebooks, pocket knives and security supplies detailed on the site. From the site

Everyday Carry, or EDC, generally refers to small items or gadgets worn, carried, or made available in pockets, holsters, or bags on a daily basis to manage common tasks or for use in unexpected situations or emergencies. In a broader sense, it is a lifestyle, discipline, or philosophy of preparedness.


Plenty of other sites offer great ideas for desks and office accessories.  Personally I love this first picture of the floating desk.

Loss of a sustainability leader

Ray icon

Very sad news today.  Ray Anderson, a pioneer in the sustainability movement passed away.  Ray was the founder of Interface the company that created the carpet FLOR tiles from recycled materials and proved that you could be profitable and sustainable at the same time.

My girlfriend had the opportunity to interview him a few years ago. She was able to get his input on a project that she was working on and came away profoundly affected by his words and actions.

Michelle Kaufmann did a nice write-up of many of the other things Ray worked on.  Please check it out here.

Categories Eco

Delighting customers with bad news

After ordering my new computer case from Tom Bihn and loving the product I decided I wanted to ordered a few other small things from them to round out some of the storage needs I had.  I received the shipping notification that it should arrive on later this week. Yesterday I received an email from Katy at Tom Bihn with the following message:

To our amazing, patient customers:

UPS has alerted us that a tornado derailed a train on the tracks that UPS Ground packages travel on from the West Coast to the East Coast. UPS is working hard to re-route the packages on to their original destination as soon as possible; this could mean that your TOM BIHN order may take a little longer to get to you than originally planned.:(

We’re sorry for the delay and will update you again if there is any further news. If you have any questions, be sure to let us know.

I was a little bummed but I was amazed about the notification.  Who does this?  I was trying to think of another company in recent years who is this proactive in their customer service offerings.  I wish more companies did this and is should be a model for others to follow.

Moving the problem to the consumer

With the release of Lion one thing that had to be done prior to upgrading was to confirm that your favorite or commonly used apps were all Intel based and did not rely on the Rosetta software translator.   The only one I had on my machine was Quicken 2007.  I have been a Quicken user since version 2.  Originally on PC and then switching to the mac. Using Quicken to reconcile my accounts is now pure muscle memory – I equate this to a programmer or designer using TextMate or BBEdit. You just know how to do it and it is instinctual.  I can reconcile my checking accounts in 2-3 minutes using Quicken.  It is no longer the difficult back of the statement approach.  I also have been using the Quicken BillPay service for some time.  While there is a monthly charge for this service, the integration with the checkbook register was brilliantly executed making paying bills electronically very very easy. For me the convenience outweighed the cost.

In order to be able to continue to use Quicken, Mac users were forced to upgrade to Quicken Essentials.  The name should tell you a lot about the application. Quicken has removed many of the features that made the application so nice.  The application user interface has also changed–drastically.  The application feels more like Quickbooks then Quicken.  I consider myself an experienced user and it took me a very long time to figure out how to use the application in the most basic way. The checkbook register view is dreadful. What you would consider to me normal application functions or buttons are buried under menus and not easy to find.  Last night I had the first opportunity to reconcile my account.  What normally takes me a few minutes was an hour long process.

Rewriting an application, especially a well established and mature application like Quicken can be difficult and time consuming. Quicken 2007 for Mac was actually released in 2006.  So we are 5 years into the application with only minor bug fixes and nothing new.  Quicken Essentials is no where near an upgrade – it is clearly a downgrade.  Key features have been removed, bill pay service is gone and many key features have been left out.

When Intuit posted options on how to handle the transition from 2007 to something that will run on Lion one of the options was to switch to Windows versions of the application.

Move to Quicken Windows

  • You can easily convert your Quicken Mac data with the exception of Investment transaction history. You will need to either re-download your investment transactions or manually enter them.
  • This option is ideal if you use Quicken to track investments.

I am surprised that someone from marketing would allow this included in a response to users. It is hard to think of any examples where moving the vendors problem to the user is ever a good solution. I know of a lot of Quicken for Mac users who were infuriated by this careless statement alone.

The support page does go on to say they are committed to supporting Apple.  But it mentions working on an iPad application. While having an iPad app would be nice thing to have, personally I am more concerned about having the core program working at its full potential.

What are your plans related to personal finance solutions for Apple customers?
We are committed to supporting Apple products and our Mac customers. We are actively working on a personal finance solution for the iPad, as well as continuing to deliver the highly rated Mint.com iPhone application. In addition, we are evaluating options for Quicken Essentials for Mac.

As a Mac user do I feel abandoned, yes.
As a long time Quicken user am angry, yes.
Do I feel Intuit had substantial time to plan and make a new version for the inevitable removal of Rosetta, yes.
Do I feel like the Essentials upgrade was a waste of money, yes.
Will I be looking for alternatives that offer better support and user experience, yes.
Can I recommend Essentials to anyone, no.