Fast, Cheap, Good

“Tradeoffs: Fast, Cheap, Good – Pick Two.”

That saying is usually depicted with a triangle – each edge or point of the triangle has one of the words on it. Kind of a binary (or ternary?) thing:

  • You can have Fast and Cheap, but it’ll be lousy.
  • You can have Fast and Good, but it’ll be expensive.
  • You can have Cheap and Good, but it’ll take a long time.

The simple Pick Two decision implies that your project will be lousy, expensive or will never be completed in the first place – in other words, a failure. I think the choice is not that simple – nor should it be.

Vivid Media has a nifty interactive slider graphic that is more realistic than the Pick Two scheme (and it’s so much cooler than a plain ol’ triangle, too).
Each Fast, Cheap and Good slider moves a bit up or down as the other sliders are moved – it’s not strictly an ON/OFF relationship. There is more granularity than simply “fast or slow,” “cheap or expensive,” and “good or lousy.” These degrees of choice should be considered as a continuum of interrelated options – I think this is a much better way of thinking about the “What are the tradeoffs?” question.

Edit: has some interesting comments on “good.”

Online calendar Kiko sold on Ebay

As you may have heard, the online calendar site Kiko was sold on Ebay (edit June 11, 2007: auction has been aged off of eBay) for $258,100. Kiko authors Richard White and Justin Kan blogged about why they sold Kiko (click their names for their posts), Richard explains more here.

From the first of Richard’s links:

“I am actually proud of this exit strategy in a way. While it’s not the one we envisioned going into things, I still think we are doing our best to satisfy the two most important stakeholders in Kiko: our investors and our users. We do care about our investors’ money and instead of just burning through the rest of the piggy bank trying to get our groove back we are trying to recoup their investment (we stand to gain little from the auction). We have also put in place both iCal export and account deletion so our users can take their data with them over to another calendar service if they so choose (or stick with Kiko while we find an acquirer).”

I don’t know how their investors will feel about this sale, and who exactly gets the proceeds from Ebay, but it does seem like this was better than just “burning through the rest of the piggy bank.”

I am very impressed by their attitude to their customers: let them take their data with them and/or delete their account. You can’t ask for much more from a free service. I suppose they could have open sourced it or donated it to someone, but I bet Kiko would languish and die if they did that. Hopefully making someone pay a non-trivial amount for it will help it survive, since the purchaser spent good money on it. Of course Google Calendar has a lot of momentum due to their sheer Google-ness, but there may be a space yet for Kiko.

Dharmesh Shah of comments on Kiko – he says:

“I just wish all that talent had been spent doing something that was almost as fun and cool – but would have actually created something of value.”

While Kiko didn’t skyrocket to a multibillion-dollar-Web-2.0-Google-is-jealous-and-O’Reilly-writes-a-bunch-of-books-about-them type of success, I don’t think you can say they didn’t create something of value. Their users apparently thought there was some value there, even if they delete their accounts today. And the Kiko developers probably learned a ton from doing it – there’s a huge amount of value there, even if its final incarnation isn’t Kiko itself.

Spellchecking complaint followup

I received this email from WordPress support regarding the spellchecking problem (‘blog’ is not in their dictionary):

Thanks for the report. We are already aware of that and will resolve it shortly.

Turns out their online support forums already had a bunch of references to the same problem – I thought I had searched for it and come up with nothing, obviously I messed up the search.

My point: They could have said something like, “Yeah, we know, why don’t you search for stuff first instead of wasting our time?” but they didn’t.

Instead WordPress sent me a nice thank you email – fast and polite feedback is a rarity in the customer service world (especially since I’m not paying for anything here!) – big time kudos to them.

Spellchecking complaint

I ended my last post with:

PS: The WordPress spellchecker doesn’t know the words “blog” or “blogging.”

I turned in for the night right after that post. When I woke up this morning my first thought was “Gee, I whined about the WordPress spellchecking, which is essentially pointless – unless I do something about it!” So I lept into virtual action and clicked on the “Feedback” link which is at the top of most WordPress pages, copied that spellchecker comment into the Feedback window, submitted it and tada!

WordPress folks: that Feedback link is brilliant! It’s practically everywhere, it’s quick and easy to use – great job!

WordPress post editor

The WordPress post editor has the word “Path:” in the bottom left corner of the text entry box. Nothing else, just “Path:”.

At first I had no idea what it means, and then as I type some more it says “Path: p”. “p?” What the heck does that mean? I’m a command line geek and I’m thinking is that some filesystem path within the WordPress world?

It turns out “Path:” indicates the tag hierarchy of the html you’re currently typing in. Like when you’re editing within a list it says “Path: ul >> li”. “p” means you’re in a paragraph block.

Everything else in WordPress has been intuitive so far, but “Path:” is bizarre.

How could it be done better? Or a better first question is, “Is it necessary at all?” I haven’t done enough blogging to know, but so far my answer is “no.”

PS: The WordPress spellchecker doesn’t know the words “blog” or “blogging.”

Creating a WordPress blog

When I decided to create a blog, I knew there were a few major free blog players out there. Google/Blogger, WordPress, etc. I chose WordPress because (a) it had the largest, most straightforward looking homepage, and (b) when I visited it had a big friendly button that said “Create Blog.” Done.

That’s some good UI design – I had no excuse not to create a blog here at WordPress, and it was oh-so-easy to just go ahead and do it.

Post Zero

So I’m starting a blog.

Why? Here’s a few reasons:

  • I would like to become a better writer.
    Everything I’ve read says the best (only?) way to do it is to Just Do It – and write. Well, technically that’s not true, because most things I read do not talk about how to become a better writer, that would be really boring.
  • I’ve calculated that there’s a 1 in 317,184,973,246 chance that you will find something I say useful.
  • All the cool kids are doing it.
    And if there’s anything I learned from my youth, it’s always follow the cool kids.

Wish me luck – and thanks for reading!