Monica, the CRM to make you a better friend

Monica is my new favorite software. It’s a CRM to “organize the social interactions with your loved ones.” In the few weeks I’ve used it, Monica has done a great job proactively encouraging me to be a better friend.

Monica is also open source on GitHub with an active community. It’s clear how this has influenced what the product is. I’d love to see Régis Freyd (the creator) turn Monica into a viable business too. This would ensure its long-term sustainability, and also help solve for product gaps (e.g. hiring for design polish).

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Product review: Miracle Method

Our kids bathtub had a botched repair job by the previous owner that we discovered last November. After calling a couple of fiberglass repair specialists, we learned the bathtub was probably plastic, and we’d have to replace the entire tub. Because there’s tile around the bathtub too, we sat on our hands for months, hemming and hawing about how expensive it was going to be.

Miracle Method to the rescue! Literally. Our tech, Owen, did an amazing job, and was very professional. He spent an hour more than he planned color matching to our old bathtub. I wish we had found this option sooner, and avoided a good six months of procrastinating.

Product review: Burley Kid’s Honey Bee Trailer

I’m a long-time runner. Growing up, my dad would take me on his runs in a Yakima jogging stroller. When us kids got in trouble, my parents would send us on a run to the end of the block and back. In my teen years, I’d skip out on soccer practice to go on 15+ mile runs.

Our Bob stroller has been a great investment. But, with the birth of Charlie in December, I needed a way to take both kids running with me. After a few week deliberating on whether we should buy a double Bob and a bike trailer, or if we should spend $800+ on a dual purpose trailer stroller, I’m happy to report the much less expensive Burley Honey Bee Trailer is pretty much the best thing ever.

As a running stroller, the Honey Bee is light and easy to push. There’s ample storage space for blankets and kids snacks, and the rain cover means we can go for a family run regardless of the weather. The only downside is that the front tire can get a bit wobbly at times.

As a bike trailer, the Honey Bee is easy to pull and steer with. Because it has the front wheel attached to the bike arm, we can easily detach the trailer at our destination, and use it as a stroller. Magic! The trailer also easily disassembles to fit in the trunk of our Subaru Crosstrek.

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Status

Wow, what an amazingly satisfying dinner at Applewood. Even though it’s only a block away from my old place, this evening was our first time. Michelle and I split zesty calamari for an appetizer. I had an excellent quinoa and grilled summer vegetables entree, and she had fresh Atlantic bass over a great squash risotto. For dessert, we had buttermilk panna cotta. The service was superb and, although somewhat pricey, I highly recommend it.

PTCruiser iPhone application for Pivotal Tracker

PTCruiser iPhone application for Pivotal Tracker. Open source iPhone application for accessing Pivotal Tracker on the go. User interface is just what you need to access the agile project management tool. You can create new stories, assign them to collaborators, comment on existing stories, and accept others’ work. Only downside is no offline syncing, but it doesn’t really make sense in this context because most of the time you want to perform write actions anyway.

Super Analyzer

Super Analyzer is a nifty little Java app that will parse the contents of your iTunes library and then spit out statistics like song plays by album release year, library growth over time, most played artists and albums, and how often you play each album compared to the rating of the album. Furthermore, for each metric, you can break down the results by decade, genre, album and artist. For me, it’s all about the 2000’s.

Reeder for iPhone

Reeder for iPhone. It’s the user experience of Fever with all of the functionality of Google Reader, including shared items, plus bonus features like Instapaper integration, save to Delicious or Pinboard, and offline syncing that. just. works.

What’s more is that I can’t believe Gruber hasn’t linked it yet. A well-deserved hat tip goes to Pete Karl.

Quick look at Managing News

Managing News is a “robust news and data aggregation engine with pluggable visualization and workflow tools.” Mo Jangda set up an instance on his server that I finally had the chance to check out. My initial impression was that, like the website, the development team put a tremendous amount of effort into polishing the user interface. It’s a super shiny way to aggregate RSS feeds.

There are nuggets I was able to suss out, however. If you’ve indexed your feeds, there are search capabilities that will also give you the frequency of any given term. The mapping functionality is also very slick. You can get all of the recent stories on a map, or stories limited to a specific term. It’s misleading to have the initial view of the map be the entire world, though, because the most useful view to an end user will be whatever region they’re interested in.

This brings me to my biggest observation: a tool like this would be most useful for managing feeds of raw data, not feeds of news articles. News articles are products where the data has already been through the rock tumbler. Where Managing News wants to be headed, I think, is towards building a tool that allows you to map and visualize all manners of data.

The difficulty then is both building the visualization tools and finding, or even brainstorming, properly geo-coded RSS feeds of the data you’re interested in.