Cheap Gas! 3.02 Now Available in iTunes

Cheap Gas! 3.02 Now Available in iTunes

Cheap Gas! 3.02 is now available in iTunes.

Cheap Gas! is now owned by GasBuddy.com… watch this space for upcoming changes!

New Splash Screen
Wycliffe iPhone App Now Available in iTunes

Wycliffe iPhone App Now Available in iTunes

The Wycliffe Bible Translators Recruitment App is now in iTunes, here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wycliffe/id345655615?mt=8.

Today about 200 million people do not have the Bible in their own language. Wycliffe’s vision is to see the Bible accessible to all people in the language they understand best. To make this vision a reality, Wycliffe also focuses on community development, literacy development and church partnerships.

I developed this application working with Scott Toncray (@stoncray on Twitter) and the Recruitment area of Wycliffe Bible Translators, headquartered here in Orlando, FL.

UPDATE: Version 1.0.2 has a slight UI change (Submit Form vs Submit Application) and some additional analytics.  It is now available in the App Store.

We Need More Contact, Not More Connections

We Need More Contact, Not More Connections

I have several thousand Facebook Friends and Twitter Followers.

I have a few hundred contacts on LinkedIn.

There are only a handful of any of these that are actually friends who would help me move furniture, or drop me off at an airport.

We have any number of ways to connect to people – social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), email, telephone, SMS, Skype, Chat, yada yada yada.

Few take the time to actually make meaningful contact.

I don’t mean a pitch – I mean, create a lasting, personal relationship with the people we titularly are “connected” to.

The past ten years have seen the transition from conducting business primarily in person to conducting business mostly with people we may never ever meet in person, face to face.  Over the past two years, the majority of my business has come from people I have never met in person, and may never get to meet.

I’m not saying this is a bad thing.  But I am saying that this loss of personal contact has caused us to be less effective communicators, rather than more effective.  Seems counterintuitive, what with all the “friends” we have.

In fact, I posit that the abundance of choice in the number of ways that we can communicate clouds our judgment over how we should communicate.

Sure – it’s funny when you see a cartoon about some dude doing the “crackberry prayer” at Thanksgiving Dinner.

Till YOU do it.

I received an email notification from an automated system this morning telling me that an app had failed a certification process.  The offending incident wasn’t actually a flaw in the application itself, but rather was a one-off issue with another service that it relied upon.  A two minute phone call would have adequately communicated this – and now, the basically identical software must be resubmitted to be tested again.

Sure – the communication mechanism served the person reviewing the software beautifully; it failed me miserably, and in the process has added two more weeks of lag time to the release of a new version of software.

All because it was too big of a pain in the ass for somebody to pick up the phone for a two minute call.

We need to make sure we are contacting and not merely connecting.

Just Say No

Just Say No

I’ve said before.  I’m saying it again.

Saying “No” in business is no big thing.

In fact, it is the “steady state” of business to be told “no” a few dozen times in the course of a day.

And yet.

Many decision makers just can’t bring themselves to say the “N” word to vendors to whom they have funneled estimate, quote, and pricing requests.

Why is that?

There is nothing more frustrating than to be told a decision will be made by a date certain, only to have the decision maker “go dark.”

Maybe other quotes are outstanding.  Maybe the pricing is out of line with expectations.  Maybe it is decided that the work may be done internally better, faster, cheaper.

Maybe the customer simply doesn’t like a vendor (why they asked for a quote in the first place may be a different, juicier story – another post, perhaps).

Whatever the case may be, it is several orders of magnitude easier to simply say “no, thank you” to vendors who you know you won’t be engaging at the earliest possible time, so that:

  • they won’t be hounding you for an answer
  • you won’t have to screen your calls for these inbound hounding barrages
  • you may focus on your chosen solution with 100% of your bandwidth

A corollary to this is to be as transparent and honest in communicating your decision making conclusion to losing vendors, if they ask.

Why?

Because you asked them for a quote in the first place – and if they didn’t win the business THIS time, they need to know why, so that if you ask them again for a quote in the future on a different project, they can avoid making the same mistake again.

A few months ago I was asked for a quote for pricing and timelines for delivery for a specialized piece of software.  I was told an answer would be forthcoming in a week.

The week dragged on to several weeks, then a month, then a couple of months.

Finally, the customer said that the project was on hold indefinitely.

This morning, I saw where the customer is publicizing the release of this new feature, to be available soon.

Did we over price?  Had we simply been led along?

Why not “just say no” rather than do the months long dance of “I’m still trying to get an answer” that we went through?

I wish I had the answer.

I do know that human nature often leads us to avoid conflict and unpleasant situations, and some would view the act of saying no as both of these things.

But in order to be an effective decision maker, the ability to say no (and articulate why you said it) should be like Mother’s Milk.

Otherwise, you’re in the wrong job.

Year’s End

Year’s End

I know most people look forward to the last two weeks of the year.

As the owner of a small business, I’ve always looked at these last two weeks of the year with Trepidation… and with Hope.

Trepidation, in that even with folks flitting to and yon for the holidays, I still have people depending upon me to bring home the bacon – regardless of merry making.

And with Hope for the coming new year, and the unwritten promise it brings.

May you and yours have a safe and happy holiday season.

And may the coming year fulfill the promise of better days ahead for us all.

Cheap Gas! Sold to GasBuddy.com

Cheap Gas! Sold to GasBuddy.com

Yesterday, the sale of Cheap Gas! to GasBuddy.com was finalized.

Dustin Coupal and Jason Toews – the cofounders of GasBuddy – have been more than gracious in their support of Cheap Gas! this past year… especially given the fact that they had an official GasBuddy application in the iTunes App Store, alongside Cheap Gas!.  It speaks volumes for their generosity and trust.

I’m pleased and honored that they deemed the application worthy of formal inclusion within their family of product offerings.

The success that Cheap Gas! has enjoyed (consistently being a Top 10 Travel App on iTunes with over 550,000 downloads) is due in no small measure to the great network of users loyal to to the GasBuddy brand.

Thank you to everyone who downloaded the application.  I hope that Cheap Gas! has been more help than hinderance, and I appreciate the kind words of support that I have received this year as I tried to build out an application that was both satisfying and useful.

So… what’s in store for Cheap Gas! in the future?

Watch this space.

The developers at GasBuddy are hard at work even now.

Again – many, many thanks to everyone.

Gowalla – What FourSquare Should Be. But Isn’t.

Gowalla – What FourSquare Should Be. But Isn’t.

I am sick to death of hearing how great FourSquare is.

Maybe two years ago it would have been.  Today, it just looks… unfinished.

And yet, one can’t help but notice that there appears to be a pump-and-dump type mentality with people buzzing up FourSquare as “the next big thing.”  I look at it and think, “this?”

There are any number of services like FourSquare that are more polished and complete (Brightkite, Loopt, Gowalla) – with by far the best of this last bunch being Gowalla.

In fact, Gowalla is what FourSquare should have been.

Especially if the FourSquare founders sat around for two years, with time on their hands, looking for something to do – working on a new product boosted from the scraps of Dodgeball.

Compare the two apps by looking at their interfaces in the Gallery below.  Which one looks like a developer in their basement pulled it together, and which one looks like a professional app built by a real company?  It’s a total no-brainer.

And embarrassment for all the “me toos” pumping up an obviously crap implementation.

But – even as cool, polished, and slick as Gowalla is (and FourSquare is not) – are these types of social apps really the next big thing?

Who knows.

I only play a developer on TV.