Ask Joel – Pricing Products (And there’s more so click that link):
“(1) As a small software company you are NOT going to compete on price. Don’t say to yourself “we have the ability to make this thing cheaper than anyone else, so we should compete on price.” Large companies have all kinds of economies of scale that you don’t have, and you’re not going to be able to sustain a price advantage. Find a different advantage.
(2) Pricing sends messages. Expensive products (like Perforce, $795/copy) “seem” like higher-quality products than cheap ones (Vault, $199/copy) even if they aren’t. People believe that “you get what you pay for.” A new high price may INCREASE your unit sales if the old price sent a message of “Cheap!”
(3) There are natural limits. Home/consumer users won’t spend more than about $20 in cash, or about $50 on a credit card. At most corporations the low level business managers have the right to spend some fixed amount of money on their credit cards without getting any permission, and that amount is usually either $300 or $500. If you set your price at $600 you are arbitrarily losing a lot of these sales because now the low level manager needs to go through purchasing and get approval. For years UserLand Frontier has been priced at $899 … just out of reach of everybody with a corporate American Express”
Ask Joel – Non-Technical Program Managers: “My organization has in recent years been overrun with program managers who seem better-equipped to make decisions about polo shirts and khaki pants than about technical matters.
They foment confusion by misusing distinct technical terms as if they were interchangable. They’re oblivious to technical nuance. Worst of all, they have no natural defenses against the influence of weak engineers. (Hmmm, maybe the weak engineers are the real problem here… Maybe software companies don’t need technical PM’s.)”
Great writing in the answers. I wish I could write like that.
At work, I still use (the default) Netscape Communicator 4.7 for email. When you open the email client, it shows a webpage with search and some news headlines in the message preview window. A co-worker alerted me to the fact that the news headlines haven’t been updated for about 6 months (I couldn’t figure out exactly how long). The last headlines (and these have been showing for months) are:
US News: Bush to Sign Partial Birth Abortion Ban
Sports: Judge Rejects Evidence in Olympic Trial
Entertainment: Keith Keeping CMA Awards in Perspective
What happened? They might have had a round of layoffs. I imagine the manager asking: “Does anyone know what that guy in the corner does?” Nobody knows. He gets fired, and the news headlines never get updated again. Nobody notices. If there’s a lesson in there somewhere, I haven’t found it.
Metadata in the environment – in this case embedded in the sleeves of photographs: Metaphotos of the Bettman Archive. The social life of information has a story about how the smell of certain archives contained metadata for a certain researcher (read the book – I don’t remember the details.)
I can highly recommend Bloglines as a news aggregator. It does everything you want, and makes it easy. They also come out with new features every few weeks that not only work well and are easy to use, but are also actually useful. The latest one lets you email your subscriptions.
This means you can set up a newsreader, add a whole set of subscriptions to it, and then email those to your friends/team/… Useful stuff.
According to Joho the Blog, Corbis (Stock photography) are doing interesting things with metadata and categorization. He’s writing a Wired article about it, something to look forward to.
To give you an idea of the classification challenges, the guys here at work recently had to find pictures of people, in business casual clothes, with diverse racial features.
Webmonkey, RIP: 1996 – 2004: “Webmonkey, the site that turned humble Web developers into attention-grabbing authors, said last week it is closing down following a round of layoffs in the U.S. division of its parent company, Terra Lycos (also the parent company of Wired News). Judging by blog posts and e-mails, the site’s fans aren’t surprised. Still, they’re sad to see the end of an era.”
I started out with Webmonkey. They had some of the best technical writing out there. But the last few years I rarely visited them anymore.