People will read | Andrew Spittle

People will read. What they won’t do is unquestioningly read on your terms.

Source: People will read | Andrew Spittle

I’ve found this to be absolutely true when working with users of technical products. Many times they would rather talk to someone before spending time searching through documentation they may or may not understand. You still have the opportunity to point them to your documentation, but you also gain a very valuable interaction with one of your customers.

Podcast Movement 2014

podcast-movement-logoI spent this past weekend staffing the WordPress.com Happiness Bar at Podcast Movement 2014 in Dallas, TX. It was a great event, especially since this was the first time it was ever held! We were able to meet tons of excited WordPress users and also help to fix quite a few sites that were either in need of updating to the latest version of WordPress, needed some quick customizations, or just wanted some recommendations on themes and plugins. WordPress is very popular with podcasters, so it was great to be able to be on site at the conference to meet as many of them as we did. I look forward to next year’s event and hope to attend again!

 

On Working From Home and Running a Business — Shawn Blanc

On Working From Home and Running a Business — Shawn Blanc →

If you just coast through your days, the natural trajectory will be downward, not upward. There is nobody to tell you when to take a break and when to call it a day. There is nobody to bounce ideas off of or to chat with at the water cooler. And if you work from home and work for yourself, there is no company retirement plan already set up for you, and your taxes are not automatically withheld.

Great piece by Shawn Blanc with thoughts on working from home, specifically for those who run their own businesses. There are some great tips for budgeting, separating work and family, and many other issues that freelancers and small business owners might run into.

WordCamp Charleston

WordCamp-Post-Image-WCCHS

 

I had an amazing time at South Carolina’s first WordCamp, WordCamp Charleston, this weekend. Shout-out to the amazing organizers and volunteers who made it a great experience for all attendees. I attended several of the sessions, all of which were very informative and interactive. Andrew Nacin gave the keynote and talked about where WordPress has come from, as well as where it’s heading.

If you get a chance to attend this WordCamp in the future, definitely check it out. Charleston is a great city, with plenty to do before and after camp.

In-app Purchases

With Amazon’s recent acquisition of the popular digital comics app, Comixology, there has been some great discussion around the in-app purchasing model on both iOS and Android. If you’re not familiar with the situation, comics were previously available to be purchased via an in-app purchase right within the app. As of just a few days ago, that feature has been removed, and instead directs user to the web to purchase the comics, thus circumventing Apple’s 30% cut of in-app purchase revenue. Amazon has done something very similar with their Kindle app on iOS from the beginning.

First, let me admit I’m not a Comixology user, nor do I read comics regularly in any form. My thoughts on this issue are purely from an outsider’s perspective, and focus more on the in-app purchase model in general. So, what’s the big deal?

Comixology users are understandably upset that they’re no longer able to purchase content from within the app, instead they have to visit an external website, which is a bit of a pain. Even more than that, Amazon gets to keep 100% of the revenue from these sales, instead of leaving 30% at Apple. It seems this might be quite a large chunk of money based on the volume of purchases Comixology users make, though the exact numbers don’t appear to be public knowledge.

This begs the question, is the in-app purchase model viable for app stores? I think it is, but maybe not in all cases, and certainly not in all the forms we see it in today. Dan Benjamin and Merlin Mann have a great discussion about this issue in the episode 169 of Back to Work. In essence, in-app purchases seem to make sense for adding new content to apps, like levels, more options, etc… This is demonstrated by many of the top games in the App Store, new levels or expansion packs can be purchased to continue the game. On the other hand, crippling an app just to make it free up front, but then offering in-app purchases to make up for that seems to be less viable. I agree with Dan and Merlin when they say they’d rather pay a little more for the app up front instead of having to fork over potentially even more money for in-app purchases later.

Will in-app purchases remain in the App Store? Absolutely. They appear to be a huge revenue generator for Apple, and probably Google as well. Are in-app purchases the best model for providing content to end users? Perhaps not as we’ve seen, but only time will tell if this trend will continue, or if users will instead be willing to pay a little more up front for the promise of continued updates and content down the road for free.

Carousel

Dropbox Launches Carousel App for Photos and Videos →

At a press event held in San Francisco this morning, Dropbox announced Carousel, a new dedicated gallery app that combines all of a user’s photos and videos from all connected devices in a single interface. Carousel will be available both as an iOS and Android app, separate from the main Dropbox client but based on the same storage space.

I’ve tried out Carousel myself and it is indeed a great app. I like that it takes over the photo backups for Dropbox, and both apps are smart enough to know which one is handling that. This is great news for people whose devices are low on storage base, but are willing to pay for Dropbox storage space in the cloud. They can remove photos from the Camera Roll while still retaining easy access to them using Carousel.

Why the Web Still Matters for Writing

Why the Web Still Matters for Writing →

Many were quick to once again declare “The Web is Dead,” but I’m not sure that conclusion makes sense, at least for writing.

Great guest post on Matt’s blog by Ben Thompson discussing his theory that the web still matters for writing, especially on mobile. While many people spend their time in apps, they also spend time reading content on the web that they find within those apps, so it seems the web is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future.

Office for iPad

Today Microsoft announced the release of their anticipated Office for iPad suite, which includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Speculation around this announcement has been circulating for quite some time, so it’s nice to finally see the release. I imagine this will signal the end of the PC for many Office users, as they’re now able to get everything done with only an iPad.

With the free versions of the apps, you can read your Word documents, view your Excel data and present with PowerPoint. Your documents will look as good as they do on your PC and Mac®, and better than ever on your iPad.  With an Office 365 subscription, you can edit and create new documents with the iPad.

With this release Microsoft is going with a freemium model. Viewing documents you already have is free, but editing them will require an Office 365 subscription, which will cost $99.99/yr or $9.99/month. Offering the apps themselves for free will more than likely increase their app store discoverability, while the in-app purchase model for editing will still provide the revenue stream they need from Office.

I definitely plan on trying the apps out, though I don’t have a need for Office after graduating college. This is a nice move for Microsoft, and one that will keep their Office suite relevant for many people who have long since left their other products behind.