Category Archives: Reviews

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The Design of Design: A Book Review

Cover image of The Design of Design by Frederick Brooks, Jr.

Everyone who thinks about what it takes to create great products needs to read The Design of Design: Essays from a Computer Scientist.  Frederick P. Brooks, Jr., author of The Mythical Man-Month, has released this inspiring collection of essays about the nature of design.  By Brooks’ definition, design includes the notion of intent and definition of goals, requirements, and implementation choices.  Everyone responsible for creating products, but with fewer than Brooks’ five decades of experience really needs to read The Design of Design.

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Pictures and Ideas for Powerful Whitepapers

Pictures can convey messages much more powerfully than words.  In a recent discussion about writing whitepapers, I suggested combining the idea-creation advice from Made To Stick with the image-creation advice from Back of The Napkin.  Check out this article to see some concrete examples.

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Personas Make Blue Ocean Strategy Proactive

Blue Ocean Strategy provides an interesting reactive analysis of companies and markets.  Personas are used to understand your customer’s needs.  Combining the two provides powerful proactive insights when positioning your product for market success.

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The Art of Product Management – Conversation Contest

My friend Rich Mironov, chief marketing officer at Enthiosys, recently published The Art of Product Management, and was kind enough to send me a free copy.  The essays he shares in the book make great conversation starters for product managers.  Tyner Blain is giving away a free copy to someone who participates in the product management conversations.  Read on to see how you can win.

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The Non-Customer Is Always Right

not interested

We’ve all heard the saying, the customer is always right.  For most product managers, however, the non-customer is the person you should be listening to.  When you hear the phrase understand your market, the goal isn’t to understand those people who’ve already purchased your product.  The goal is to understand the people who haven’t purchased your product yet.

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Beyond Booked Solid: Solid Advice

beyond booked solid book cover

Michael Port’s new book just came out. If you’re trying to redefine or improve how you focus professionally, it would be a good read. If you run your own company, or want to, it is a great read. Michael has good advice, good reasoning for his advice, and he writes well – a very easy to read style. Not dumbed down, not full of jargon. As someone who exactly matches his target audience, I highly recommend Beyond Booked Solid.

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Outside-In Software Development: First Look

outside-in software development cover

A first look at Outside-in Software Development, available tomorrow (or pre-order tonight on At the time of this writing, the book is #29 on the Hot New Releases list – and you can get it for just over a third off the price if you pre-order now. Take a look at an overview of the book and our first impressions – then give the book a bump and let the wisdom of crowds take over.

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Smart Enough Systems – Interview With James Taylor

James Taylor

Today we recorded an interview with James Taylor, co-author of Smart (Enough) Systems, How To Deliver Competitive Advantage by Automating Hidden Decisions. This book, written by James Taylor with Neil Raden comes out on Jun 29th (2007), and is available for pre-order from Amazon today. Our interview covers many of the topics in their book, with a focus on the ideas inside and the benefits you can get from applying them, in just under an hour.

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Catalyze – A New Community Site For Us

catalyze logo From the FAQ:

What is the Catalyze community?
Catalyze is a new member-driven community for all professionals involved in the defining and designing software applications or websites. Catalyze is a place to share experiences, find resources, ask questions, offer opinions, get involved and network with other professionals engaged in defining and designing software applications and websites.

What is the goal of the Catalyze community?
The goal of the Catalyze community is to be the number one destination for software application definition and design professionals. Peer-based content is the most powerful force for change and learning in the world today. For the first time, that power is now in the hands of the professionals that define and design the world’s software.

Who are the target members of the Catalyze community?
If you are a Business Analyst, UI Designer, Information Architect, Interaction Designer, Usability or UX Professional, Product Manager, Project Manager or anyone else involved in the definition process of a software application, then you will find value in joining the Catalyze Community.

From looking at the site, it looks like some great opportunities for all of us

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OnTime Bug tracking software – $5 (or free) from Axosoft

OnTime boxed software image (image hotlinked from Axosoft)

There’s a crazy deal being offered by Axosoft. Buy a 5-user version of their $500 software suite for $5, but the offer expires February 24th (2006). The link to buy the software is here – and only available on blogs. Axosoft is trying a social marketing experiment to see if they can promote their products and brand via the blog universe. It isn’t clear at what hour the offer expires, so you might want to get it on the 23rd.
Check out the demo (6 minutes). We bought the software immediately after watching the demo today. Axosoft is donating the $5 to the American Red Cross. They have already raised over $2400. I love their explanation of why it’s $5 and not free:

When we decided to move forward with this offer, we wanted to make it free. However, the Axosoft Online Store currently doesn’t have a way to do $0 transactions. All purchases through the store must have a positive dollar value. Rather than spending the time and resources to update the store to allow $0 transactions, we decided to go ahead and charge a nominal fee and donate the money to the Red Cross.

The first positive sign (for us) about the folks at Axosoft. They make rational investment decisions.
After digging around on their site, we found that they (at least for now) also have two ways to get the software for free.

OnTime 2006 installs as a 30-day multi-user trial for up to 12 users for evaluation. An activation key is NOT Required! However, for a free single-user activation key of OnTime that never expires, with no limitations (a $200 Value!), visit the Key Request Page.

Aren’t you glad you found the link at Tyner Blain?

The second positive sign about the folks at Axosoft.

After the purchase, we got a personal (form letter) email from their president, Hamid Shojaee. Marginally useful. In that email, he mentions that we should have received our product activation key in an automated email. We hadn’t. I replied to his email, and 9 minutes later had both a response from Mr. Shojaee (including my activation key) and the automated email with the activation key. With hundreds of purchases in two days, the fact that their president took the time to reply (with no way of knowing that it would show up as good PR here), impressed us again.

Is it any good?

Honestly, we don’t know yet. Since their offer is so short lived, we wanted to get the post out asap – if it is great, then getting it for $5 (or free, if you’re a one-man-shop) is fantastic. So, we’re joining in and spreading the word too. We can tell you that the windows client installs very easily and also uninstalls very easily. It does require a SQLServer database connection, so it isn’t a 30-second install. But if it isn’t what you want, it is a 30-second uninstall.