At Delphic Sage, we love using Basecamp as our central communications hub between our staff and our clients. It's simple and easy to use, and has a permissions model that makes it well suited as a client portal. However, Basecamp lacks the granularity to be used for actual project/task management which is why we use a different system internally. One of the pain points for our project management team is that they often have to take messages or to-do items from clients out of Basecamp and copy them to our internal solution manually. After reading a bit about the Basecamp REST API, we devised a fairly clever way to make this happen more easily without subjecting/exposing our clients to the minutia of our internal task system.

Some Requirements

1. It needs to be quick and easy to selectively create a new intranet task based on a client entered To-Do item or message in Basecamp.
2. It needs to be easy to jump back and forth between the Internal Task and the Basecamp To-Do
3. The Client should not be exposed to the internal workflow / comments

The Solution

1. We used the BaseCamp API to allow project managers to simply create a new task based on the basecamp URL of an existing To-Do Item. Once the task was created, we prepended the To-Do in back camp with the intranet Task #.
2. We used a GreaseMonkey Script with JQuery to Link all task #s on BaseCamp To-Dos to the corresponding Intranet Task.
3. Since our clients will not have the Greasmonkey script, they will only see that there is a task number, indicating that the Basecamp To-Do has been escalated to an internal Task.

Read on for the step by step analysis...

What were once known as "Cellphones" have come a long way in the last few years, and now we are in the midst of a "Mobile Device" or "Handset" revolution. Since the iPhone came out in 2007, phone manufacturers have been forced to step up their game and take things to the next level. When you add in new offerings in the form of Google's Android, Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.5 and the Palm's WebOS we finally have plenty of good mobile OS options, and the consumer is benefiting from competition with more features and lower prices (if only the service providers would follow suit). If you don't already have a smart phone, chances are that you are planning to get one when your contract is up. For those of us in the industry,  this is the transition to the time where the mobile website will not be just an afterthought, but in some cases may be even more mission critical than the traditional web site. This brings up a whole new set of challenges and concerns for the strategy and planning of a web presence.

Mark Patten

by Mark Patten

World Usability DayOpen your office Windows (no chairs through the windows if you are hermetically sealed please - especially if you are 40 floors up) and scream with joy - "it's World Usability Day". This year's theme is Designing for a Sustainable World. Let World Usability Day 2009 be your impetus to create greater awareness for designs, products and services that improve the sustainability of our world.

What is World Usability Day? Well it's described on the namesake web site as follows:

"It's about making our world work better. It's about "Making Life Easy" and user friendly. Technology today is too hard to use. A cell phone should be as easy to access as a doorknob. In order to humanize a world that uses technology as an infrastructure for education, healthcare, transportation, government, communication, entertainment, work and other areas, we must develop these technologies in a way that serves people first.

World Usability Day was founded in 2005 as an initiative of the Usability Professionals' Association to ensure that services and products important to human life are easier to access and simpler to use. Each year, on the second Thursday of November, over 200 events are organized in over 43 countries around the world to raise awareness for the general public, and train professionals in the tools and issues central to good usability research, development and practice."

There are lots of ways to participate. Be sure to check the web site.


by Brian

Google has done it again.

Just in time for "Joe Six Pack" to enjoy the Presidential debates, Google Labs has released Mail Goggles. Mail Goggles, unlike beer googles, prevents you from doing stupid things.

So how does it work?

  1. You consume a fair amount of alcohol.
  2. You convince yourself that your boss is a jerk, or maybe that some significant other who screwed you over is indeed "the one" after all.
  3. You write an email to this person telling them how you really feel.
  4. You click send.
  5. Mail Goggles pops up and asks you 5 questions of 3rd grade math with a 60 second time limit.
  6. You fail to answer the questions, so the message does not get sent. Therfore, you avoid making an ass out of yourself.

Society Benefits

  • Less people getting fired would lead to a reduction in the unemployment rate.
  • Fewer bad relationships getting back together would lessen the number of divorces down the line.
  • A decline in restraining order applications would free up local court resources.
  • A reduction in the number of emails sent will free up much needed bandwidth for Celebrity Gossip and Miracle Diet advertisements.

My Ideas for Google Labs

  • Reply to All Confirmation - There's nothing like sending a snide comment to the whole company.
  • Mail Goggles Browser Plugin for SSL Pages - Prevent yourself from buying John Voigt's car on Ebay .
  • Sarcasm detection: puts any sarcastic comments that may be interpreted literally in italics.

Google ChromeI can't say I'm remotely surprised by Google's entry into the browser market (was anybody?). In fact, I'm surprised it has taken this long to happen - the writing has been on the wall for years. I'm more curious how they kept such a relatively tight lid on this? There have been rumors for years, but they seem to have gone quiet recently. And then all of a sudden -- here it is!

Anyway, as an interactive agency I can't say the addition of another browser, especially one that is likely reasonable adoption, to test was the most welcome of news. But the inner geek quickly takes over and the excitement got the best of me.

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