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DBF: Dragon Dictation for the iPhone

(DBF stands for Digital Better Future – it’s a ongoing series of posts on digital developments making the lives of Digital Entrepreneurs easier, better and faster in 2010.)

You read that right – as of late yesterday, Dragon Dictation from Nuance is out. It’s free, it works, it’s awesome. [iTunes link] Here’s a detailed post on it and after you download and install it, check out this page and this page at Nuance’s site for tips on handling punctuation, etc.

Is it perfect? No. But then, neither are you, and this is the 1.0 version, and the free teaser version at that. Nuance will be releasing soon voice-driven Search for Google on the iPhone.

Now the speech recognition does not happen on the iPhone – it’s automatically sent to servers in the cloud then shows on on the screen a few seconds later. Then you can copy it to the clipboard, email it or text it. Given the realities of cloud computing (scalability, constant code improvements rolled out) plus the realities of the iPhone software market (groundbreaking gets huge attention, something like 50 million users, upgrade within app possibilities) this is one iPhone app you can expect to see on an Apple commercial soon.

By the way, here’s the unedited text, taken from the emails I sent myself looks like. Rough? Sure, but already Dragon is doing a better job of transcribing since I started using it an hour ago.

IMG_0173

You read that right — as of yesterday, dragon dictation from Nuance is out. It’s free, it works, it’s awesome. Is it perfect no but then neither are you and this is the 1.0 version of the free teaser version of test.

Here’s a detailed post on and after you download and install it, check out this page, and this page at Nuance’s site for tips on handling punctuation, etc.

Nuance will also be releasing soon a voice driven search for Google on the iPhone. Now the speechwriting mission does not happen on the iPhone — it’s automatically sent to servers in the cloud then shows up on your screen a few minutes later. Then you can copy to the clipboard, e-mail or text it. Given the realities of cloud computing parentheses scalability, cost and code improvements rolled out.) Plus the realities of the iPhone software market processes groundbreaking gets huge attention, something like 50 million users, upgrade with an application possibilities.). This is one on iPhone app you can expect to see you on Apple commercial soon.

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Bob WalshDBF: Dragon Dictation for the iPhone

Snow in Sonoma?

Woke up to a light sprinkling of snow here in Sonoma, CA – something that happens where I live about every three years. Took a quick pic as an MMS to text to various friends, got busy coding and testing a big batch of enhancements to my startup app. Keep coming back to coding after various calls, noticed the last of the snow melting early afternoon. Next time I came up for air, it was 7:05 pm.

When you’re brain-deep in coding, you can really lose track of time. Hence, this week’s MicroISV Digest and Startup Success Podcast will be delayed, but should be out tomorrow.

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Bob WalshSnow in Sonoma?
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So you can teach an old company new tricks!

Want to see a near perfect execution of how an old (105 year old!), traditional brand can, with the sharp claws of new social media digging into their thigh, hit the goldmine demographic of 24-35 year olds? Come’on, it will only take a minute and you’ll learn something.

First, let’s go to Twitter where CIW (Conventional Internet Wisdom – and no, it’s not an oxymoron) says old companies flounder like sea lions in ballet tutus:

Huh? What? – perfect bait for any cat staff (dogs have owners, cats have staff – trust me on this one.)

Clicking the URL takes you to the page I screen captured above. No, that’s not a Feline Death Ray he’s wearing, it’s a camera – and if you dig around on the net, you’ll find (flogging my memory), a guy in Germany who cobbled together a WiFi cam in the same way a few years back.

Now go on and click the link and download the PDF – it won’t scratch:

Get the “Scratchington Post” bit? All in all, a well done bit of social media driven brand awareness that comes across as a little corny, but not as [filtered out] advertising, although they should have forked out for an American Humane Association anti-cruelty certification and a big fat coupon.

Now, besides wishing you could equip some of your startup’s customers with the same device, how could you apply a good social media hook that will bounce around Twitter, with a brand awareness landing page and a .pdf that’s not marketing to boost your startup’s authority?

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Bob WalshSo you can teach an old company new tricks!

Inbound Marketing, by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah

(Weekend Media Review is a new section here at 47 Hats, because I’m so damned busy during the week the only time I get to indulge in my lifefong vice of reading – especially books that make a difference – is on weekends. So why Media instead of Books? Because I now find myself – probably like you – “reading” a lot more audiobooks, YouTube presentations and online lectures.)

Given what I do – consult with startups, author books about startups and social media – I smugly assumed Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs (The New Rules of Social Media) wouldn’t contain anything I didn’t already know. Wrong! Shah and Halligan do an extremely good and approachable job of laying out the new realities for business in regards to marketing and breaking those realities down into specific, doable advice.

A couple of examples:
1. Become the world’s best in a market you define, not your competitors.
2. In regards to how Google ranks search results, while “everyone knows” your web page title tag should be descriptive, it matters where in that title, your keywords are.
3. Exactly how to engage your market on Facebook.

The other thing that struck me is how well the authors prevented the usual jumble of IT technobabble from getting in the way of giving businesses information they can act on. This is a business book, first and foremost, written for that vastly larger world of small and medium size businesses whose stately boat rides have been rocked by the wake of the Internet-powered IT industry this decade.

Since you’re reading this blog, I assume you’re in the business of selling software: is this book for you? Emphatically yes, because while you may think you know how to get found using Google, social media and blogs, unless you’re actually doing the important basics covered in this book, you’ve missed the boat.

I know I’ve been dockside – how about you?

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Bob WalshInbound Marketing, by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah
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DBF: Adopting Google Voice

(DBF stands for Digital Better Future – it’s a ongoing series of posts on digital developments making the lives of Digital Entrepreneurs easier, better and faster in 2010.)

“You have five new messages… Message 1…” How many times have you heard your voicemail system tell you that, only to sit there, being a slave to crappy technology, as you play each message? And of course, message 5 would be that call you’ve been waiting for from a major account saying, yes, they could talk to you, but you have to call them back now before they leave on an 8-day trip to China… only they’ve already left.

I hate voicemail. Leaving it, playing it, trying to remember more commands that save and delete (which they change every so often just for the fun of it.).

Well, that’s over with for 2010. Today, either for free or cheaper than your current voicemail system you can have a much better experience. Let’s first look at Google Voice (I have 3 invites left if you need one).

Robert Dempsey, founder of startup/dev shop Atlantic Dominion, explained what he liked (and didn’t like) about the big GV:

Hi Bob,

Here are the pros/cons of Google Voice as I see them.
Pros

  • One of the biggest pros of GV is that I can set up multiple phone numbers for our single main number to ring to. So I can have team members all over the place and whoever answers the phone gets it, but we all know the phone rang.
  • You can have all of your normal voicemail for a phone number (cell phone, etc.) go to Google Voice.
  • You can access your voice mail online or via your smart phone, and get an email or SMS when you have a voice mail.
  • You can set up groups of numbers and have different greetings for the different groups.
  • Add a call widget to a web page so people can easily initiate a call to you.
  • And, it’s free.

Cons

  • The only con as I see it is that you can’t set up times for the service to ring different phones. In other words, I can’t tell it to ring one number from 8-5, and another after that.

So what does GV look like? Well here is me calling my GV number:
First, it rings all my phones:
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When I don’t answer (I usually don’t talk to myself :)), I leave a voicemail. 93 seconds later, I get this text message:
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A minute later, the email version shows up:
Inbox (4 messages)
And for that matter, it’s in my GV interface online. Was it a perfect transcription? No. But digitally good enough to let you decide whether this was a file and forget or your house is burning down.

And it’s free.

Don’t like Google? There’s a host of new companies like the one StartupToDo.com’s first Corporate Scholarship Partner (more on that soon :)) uses, phone.com:
phone com

Bottom Line: ditch analog-like voicemail for 2010 – it makes about as much sense as a horseless carriage.

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Bob WalshDBF: Adopting Google Voice

Breaking through your sales ceiling with Bits du Jour

by Roger Thomasson,
Editor, Bits du Jour

So, 6 months ago you released a game-changing, niche-filling, 22nd century application.  It’s bigger, better, and faster than even the closest competition.  Then why are sales so slow?  Why are inferior titles posting astronomical download counts while yours stagnates at a few dozen per week?

There’s no question as to your coding, design, and interface genius. But let’s face it, Marketing 101 wasn’t part of your Computer Science course track. So how the hell are you going to get the word out?  Answering that question is very likely why you come to 47hats.com.  And answering that question is exactly why vendors come to Bits du Jour.  Oh yeah, that and to make a few bucks 😉

Bits du Jour, simply, is Woot.com for Windows Software.  More specifically, we offer daily time-limited discounts on downloadable software. While these deals are available to anybody happening upon bitsdujour.com, our biggest asset is our 100,000+ customer mailing list.  Lovingly compiled over the last 4 years, this list is filled with software enthusiasts that buy on impulse, not necessarily to fill a particular need.  These are power-users and productivity-hounds, always on the prowl for the latest and greatest application to empower, simplify, and organize their lives.  No joke — we have one customer that has purchased more than 80 titles over the last couple of years!

If you aren’t particularly keen to discount your software via your product homepage, Bits du Jour offers a relatively “safe” way to experiment.  The bulk of our traffic comes via this mailing list, so you aren’t in any particular danger of cannibalizing your customer base.  At the end of the day, these are our customers visiting Bits exclusively for the discounts we broker. And there’s a good chance that these customers might not be exposed to your software otherwise.

One of the most common questions we get from vendors is, of course, “What kind of sales can I expect?”  Given the breadth, number, and variety of titles we offer, a generic sales average would be relatively meaningless for any one particular software vendor.  However, the number we usually quote is a multiple of 5x – 15x your existing daily sales.  Many titles sell less than this, and many sell far more, but it’s a reasonable gauge of what you can expect.  And to be sure, if the word gets out on the blogosphere, sales in the hundreds of units aren’t uncommon!

As it turns out, the Bits du Jour customer base seems to be a rough microcosm of the software industry in general.  Our customers buy more software than the average consumer, but what they choose to buy appears to correlate.  If title X sells twice as good as title Y via traditional channels, it’s likely that this trend will be somewhat reflected on Bits du Jour.  Similarly, if you develop and distribute several software titles, it’s likely that your best selling title will perform better than your 4th best-selling one.

But even if sales aren’t off the charts, you’ll still get cost-free exposure to over 100,000 highly-targeted potential customers.  More impressions, more downloads, more eyes looking at your product.  In addition, our active comment boards can provide valuable feedback and a direct connection to customers.  We’ve had more than one developer release a build mid-promotion based on a Bits du Jour customer comment.

As far as logistics are concerned, setting up a Bits du Jour promotion is simple.  Once we deem your software suitable and agree on a date, all we really need from you is purchase and download links, image links, and testimonials if you have them.  We have a team of freelancers that will prepare the witty, grammatical promo copy at no charge to you.  Our standard commission is 30%, taken after the discount and after any associated eCommerce fees.  — Roger Thomasson

If you have questions, feel free to contact me at roger@iconico.com.

For more information, go here:

http://www.bitsdujour.com/partnerInfo/

And if you’d like to go ahead and submit your title for us to review, go ahead and do it here:

http://www.bitsdujour.com/partnerISVSignup/

==========
Based out of Philadelphia, Roger Thomasson is currently the copy and submissions editor for Bits du Jour. He loves a win-win situation, perhaps even more than Buffalo Wings.

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Bob WalshBreaking through your sales ceiling with Bits du Jour

The MicroISV Digest

The MicroISV Digest for the week ending November 30th, 2009.

(With 2010 just one month away, I need your feedback on what – and whether – the MicroISV Digest should be. Please comment on this post what you’d like to see it cover more, less or differently. And apologies for missing last week – by the time I could get to it, it was Thanksgiving here in the US.)

(If you have an announcement of interest to your fellow microISV, indies or startups, please email me at bob.walsh@47hats.com with the word digest in the subject.)

News and Announcements

  • Martin Kleppmann, Go Test It, has announced his startup will be acquired by Red Gate Software: plenty of good lessons to learn there and congratulations Martin! (via email)
  • Radomir Mladenovic and his small team have launched LogDigger. LogDigger simplifies and accelerates the process of reporting bugs in a Web application, complete with usage history, form data, annotated screenshots and server logs. (via email)
  • Show #46, of the Startup Success Podcast features (by pure coincidence) an interview with Martin Kleppmann, founder of Go Test It. Martin offered a 30% discount to SSP listeners. You’ll find The Startup Success Podcast at iTunes.

Relevant Blog Posts, Podcasts, Videos and Articles

And…

  • This week’s microISV Digest is sponsored by StartupToDo.com: Focused action and discussion save you precious bootstrapping hours. Be Successful Faster with StartupToDo.com.
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Bob WalshThe MicroISV Digest

Martin Kleppmann’s Go Test It makes the finish line.

About 2 hours ago Martin Kleppmann announced that Red Gate Software is acquiring his startup, Go Test It, for an undisclosed amount. Go Test It is an automated cross browser functional testing service. Here’s the details of the acquisition and Martin’s good-to-read reflection on it.

It’s always good to see someone in the startup/microISV world succeed; it’s even better when you can learn 12 Lessons from how they succeeded. (Skip down to Lesson #7 for the juicy part.)

I first got to know Martin in August when he sent me a very nice email regarding my latest book, this post that inadvertently included him in this image, and to briefly pitch his startup for my podcast. (Lesson 1: Reach out and Pitch Somebody Everyday.)

While Martin participated in StartupToDo.com’s private beta, I very much doubt that had anything to do with his well-earned success, but it certainly was something I noticed. (Lesson 2: Help others in the Startup Community.)

At the Business of Software Conference this month, Martin sought me out, (Lesson 3: Go to conferences to get known, use social tools to connect.), helping me locate another conferee, despite me being in a cranky mood thanks to a pinched back nerve (Lesson 4: When being helpful, their attitude is their problem, not a reflection of you.).

When I interviewed Martin for my podcast, (Lesson 5: Media exposure is good, no matter how small) he was interesting, helpful to people who listened to the podcast and came across as someone very committed to his startup (Lesson 6: Be yourself and be committed.).

Now, none of the above (or me for that matter) had any involvement with Martin’s happy Early Exit, but it goes to show Martin’s approach in general, I think. Let’s look at how he made Go Test It a worth acquiring:

  • Go Test It is definitely one of the nicest and most effective web sites for a startup I’ve seen this year. (Lesson 7: No one shops for ugly.)
  • Offer real value to your Market. Go Test It’s Firefox Recorder extension is really cool, as is the nuanced way results are delivered. Could some other programmer code the same – sure, if they had the right experience, thought about it deeply and spent a great deal of time getting it right.That’s Lesson 8: people are not buying your software. They’re buying the experience you’ve had, the deep thinking you’ve done and all of time you’ve spent finding and executing a good solution, and that happens to be in the form of software.
  • I’m sure that Martin working from Red Gate’s premises made it easy for Neil Davidson and Simon Galbraith to feel good about doing this deal. You might be tempted to think, “Oh, he got lucky that way.” Well, the co-founders of Red Gate are great guys, but they are running a [very successful] software business: they are not going to fork over money just because they know and presumably like Martin. (Lesson 9: You make your own luck.)
  • If your startup (not just your software) is going to be acquired, it’s got to be hard to reproduce. Sure, you probably know a lot about automated web testing – but just how long would it take to duplicate both the software and business and the reputation Martin has created? (Lesson 10: Valuable means hard to reproduce.)
  • Martin made a point to reassure his customers in some detail that he will be working on Go Test It at least until September 2010. (Lesson 11: Reassure your customers – they matter.) Of course, at some point Go Test It is going to be fully integrated into Red Gate’s line of services and software, so this isn’t for always and forever (Lesson 12: Every finish can be the start of something even better.)

Digital entrepreneurs create value as regularly as Moore’s Law works: I’m quite sure this is only the first finish line Martin will cross. Congratulations Martin, well done!

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Bob WalshMartin Kleppmann’s Go Test It makes the finish line.
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Having a nice weekend off? Google’s moving your Customers.

While you were sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner, Google was changing how and even if customers will find your software. Since There Is No News(bloggers, reporters) Thanksgiving weekend, the firestorm will start officially Monday. Here’s how Google rocked your world by adding one little command to their results page for some users : + Show Options

blah blah blah - Google Search

When you click it, you get a left sidebar changing how people search with Google – and how much you’ll get found:

Props to Gizmodo for (I think) reporting it first, and how to turn it on, and how to turn it off.

These new search options have been exposed here and there but are showing up this weekend for random Goggle users (happened to me; how about you? Please comment.). Don’t be distracted by holiday media staff (read: interns) thinking the change in button color is the news or that these changes are somehow related to Google Wave: they’re not. And if you accept at face value this underwhelming PR response, you’ll miss something that is going to change how much money you make in 2010 selling software.

Having spent the day adopting these new options, they are too damn useful to ignore: I predict they are going to be the shortest Google beta in history, which means they are going to be your problem as a software vendor right quick.

  1. Any Time – that means your web content has to change. The game used to be that the older your site, the more quality inbound links, the closer to the top of Google’s results. Not no more, at least in our world. Old = Bad when it comes to what we sell. Why would care about software that isn’t in Google results in the Past Year? You don’t – and neither will your customers.
  2. Not Yet Visited. The first time a customer visits your site to judge your product will be the last time they visit your site. No second (have to include you when they search again) chances.
  3. Wonder Wheel. What Google takes away, Google gives back: The best tool available now for finding the all-important search/keyword terms. Darren Rouse’s take. Ignore the rest of this other guy’s videos, but he got “Google Wonder Wheel Keyword Research Tool Helps Discover Hidden Niches” right back in May:
  4. Page Preview – Users can and will filter you much faster. Once you turn on the Page Preview (it’s just as fast as Standard View), you’re not going to turn it off – it makes filtering out crap instantly easier. You see crap, you react – you don’t have to read it. And if your Hook isn’t top left (see next image; and you bet I’ve changed it in production), you are going to be GOL (Google out of luck.)
    startuptodo - Google Search

What this means for your sales.

  1. Assess the Damage. Check Google – do you have Options? Ask around – Twitter works well for this. I’m launching a Twitter hashmark here: #gotgoogopt.
  2. Think. What does your software business now look like to the overwhelming majority of your prospective customers? Better? Worse? Invisible?
  3. Skip the first four steps of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression) and get on with deciding what you are going to do about it.
  4. See step 3.
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Bob WalshHaving a nice weekend off? Google’s moving your Customers.

Startups.com: Your Business. Your Questions.

By Fred Imparatta
Community Manager, Startups.com
Startups.com

There are 450,000 people who take the plunge into small-business ownership every year. Chances are, they’ll need someone to help them answer their business questions. That’s where Startups.com comes in. In Startups.com, business owners (both big and small), can ask their business questions, which will be answered by our community of other business-owners, entrepreneurs, and business-people.

You’re in the software industry, a very competitive, but passionate sector. You already have StackOverflow to go and ask your programming questions, when you get stuck programming. But who, or where, do you turn for help when you get stuck running your software business? That’s where Startups.com comes in. More and more programmers feel comfortable coming to Startups.com to ask for help on the business side of their software ventures. We like to think this way: Programming Questions? You go to StackOverflow.com. Business Questions? You go to Startups.com. Easy, isn’t it?

What if you are too busy coding and don’t have time to go to Startups.com? Not a problem. If you’re a Twitter user, just send your question to @askstartups. You’ll get an @reply within minutes, with a link that will take you to where you can finish asking their question. Also, they can send an email to ask@startups.com, with their question on the subject and further information in the body of the email, and your question will be posted to Startups.com.

We’re growing daily, with new users coming to answer and ask hard-hitting business questions. That’s why we’ve created our Mod Team, with some of the best participants that have come to the site, asked thoughtful questions and given great answers. These great guys help us keep the site looking good, correcting questions and keeping them on topic. Maybe you recognize quite a few faces there, take a look.

We’re also bringing well-known hosts to answer questions from our community. For instance, we will have Gary Vaynerchuk on Monday, Nov 23rd coming to Startups.com to answer your business questions.

To sum it up, as Joel Spolsky himself tweeted:  “Awesome customization of StackExchange: http://www.startups.com” Startups.com is owned by Startups.com Network, Inc. which is the parent company of another great site: KillerStartups.com.

Take Startups.com for a spin. Our goal is to answer your business question with useful answers, within minutes. Can we make it? Ask your own business question, and find out for yourself.

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Bob WalshStartups.com: Your Business. Your Questions.