The Ajax Event Calendar WordPress plugin surpasses 31,000 downloads in just four months since its release. This easy-to-use visual community calendar allows authorized users to add, edit, move, copy, resize and delete entries into custom categories, and supports daily, weekly, monthly and yearly repeating events. Designed, developed and supported by Product Development Professional Eran Miller, this open source WordPress plugin is freely available for download.
Translated into 21 languages including right-to-left languages
I am pleased to announce the recent release of the Ajax Event Calendar plugin for WordPress. Efforts to create the AEC were launched a few months ago, when I was asked to setup an easy-to-use blog community calendar that supported multiple user contribution.
Despite the many calendar plugins available, none were appropriate or easily modified to address all requirements. So I set out to create my first WordPress plugin, indeed my first plugin of any kind. The AEC is a derivative amalgamation of several jQuery plugins, some database work, and a fair amount of PHP code utilizing the WordPress API.
In this quick read, co-authors Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles begin by establishing that “Satisfied customers just aren’t good enough,” and the three principles to creating Raving Fans, as delivered by a Fairy Godmother named Charlie, are as follows:
Develop an ideal vision of your service
Without a goal it’s impossible to know when you’re off course
Continually engage your customer’s on their ideal vision of the service, giving special attention to overlaps and clashes
Learn where customers place the greatest value, and either adjust your vision to accommodate, and recognize when their needs would be better served somewhere else
Consistently deliver on your promises and improve the service with minor adjustments
Continual customer engagement keeps you in touch with trending needs and enables nimble adjustments to your service 1
While these points cover the major ideas in the book, there are several happy workplace nuggets of wisdom that make this a worthwhile read. Still unsure? Check out this free preview of Raving Fans.
Principles in Action
As I read this book, I found myself comparing it to the 37signals philosophy, and specifically to the recently released customer feedback application called Smiley.
a perfect marriage of ideology with agile development ↩
If you’re an information junkie like me, you have over 60 RSS feeds in Google Reader, and are tired of staying up late to keep up with the ever-growing mountain of new technology trends before they become irrelevant. You have tried to reduce unwanted content from the more prolific feeds in your list with tools like Feed Rinse or Yahoo Pipes - yet the unread count still grows larger.
Crowd-sourcing to the Rescue
In January, PostRank released a browser extension which provides a more effective method to improve the signal to noise ratio. Using crowd-sourced metrics, the extension displays a PostRank Engagement Score beside each post in Google Reader. The extension also features a drop-down filter that makes low-ranked content less opaque. While the filter transition animation is slick, a more valuable filter would allow sorting of the content by Engagement Score.
Spreading the Wealth
Recently, this extension was enhanced to display Engagement Scores with: Hacker News, Google News, Reddit, Google, Delicious and Digg. Yet without the ability to sort by Engagement Score it’s difficult to define this additional data as anything more than interesting.
What tips do you recommend to overcome information overload?
You’re driving in an urban setting from Point A to Point B. Assume reaching your destination requires turning both left and right at intersections, but you’re only permitted to make right turns. You might think that restriction wastes fuel – you would be wrong. But we’ll get back to that in a moment.
To minimize the risk of collisions in urban intersections, as standard operating procedure some shipping companies employ routes favoring right turns. Despite the additional time required, these companies have determined that it is ultimately less expensive to route their delivery trucks in this manner.
Mythbusters tested this scenario in San Francisco and found that despite extending the travel time by 17%, the right-turn-only-route consumed less fuel compared to the route that incorporated both right and left turns.
Your typical driver is probably not going to consider somewhat better fuel economy as more valuable than the time lost driving (toward their destination) in circles. Although no one would argue that safer roads are needed, adoption of the right-turn-only constraint seems a very unlikely future. There is however, an alternative:
A superstreet is a type of road intersection that is a variation of the Michigan left. In this configuration, traffic on the minor road is not permitted to proceed straight across the major road or highway; traffic wishing to turn left or go straight must turn right onto the major road, make a U-turn through the median a short distance away from the intersection and then either go straight or make a right turn when it intersects the other half of the minor street… This description assumes driving on the right.
North Carolina State University reported their findings on a recent superstreet study:
20% overall reduction in travel time – unfortunately, the report did not mention fuel economy for comparison
46% fewer reported automobile collisions (63% fewer resulting in personal injury)
The usability of intersections could be redesigned to potentially improve efficiency and safety throughout the nation, but at what cost? Is the superstreet redesign the correct application for all urban intersections? Or perhaps we should consider employing a right-turn-only constraint as a viable low-cost alternative to re-architect our infrastructure. The learning curve would be lower, and the changes would be far less disruptive. Without additional data and user feedback I’d just be making right turns to wrong conclusions.