Data & Stuff // Neil Houston

Yeap, data and stuff
  • scissors
    April 27th, 2010Neil HUncategorized

    Back in April, at SXSW, Daniel Ek (Spotify CEO) talked about the future for the company, one key theme was the understanding that they need to make sharing music easier for their users. They also didn’t want to force users to create new social networks to do so, I blogged my thoughts on Music Discovery after the event.

    Just over a month later, it’s here the ‘Next Generation Spotify‘ which amongst other features allows you to share playlists amongst Spotify user and Facebook friends ‘with ease’.

    One thing you might want to consider, straight after authorising Spotify to connect with Facebook, is exactly what have you allowed it to do?

    As you can see, the standard set of interactions, that allow the App to post things to your profile. One new one for me is the ‘access data at any time’ option; let me know how Spotify might use that in the comments.

    Usage Auto-Post
    So when you’ve linked your account, it will automatically post to your wall and let people know you are on Spotify. OK So far, I’ll let the app do that.

    Playlist Privacy
    The app, will allow you to edit which of your playlists are publically shared (by default they ALL are), may be worth considering if you want certain playlists not to be shared. Also by default all future playlists you create will be automatically shared. Untick the box to sort that out, if you so wish.

    After all, do you really want to know the contents of ‘Music to put my makeup on to’; or the fact it’s in my collection!

    Facebook Interaction
    So now, as we have some friends, I can peruse what playlists they have let me see. Now what happens if I decide to add one of their playlists (or one they have added), to my Spotify account?

    Spotify will automatically post the fact you have added this playlist, to Facebook. There is no prompt notifying you are ‘do you want to share’ to Facebook. I was disappointed when I opened Facebook and had seen the Spotify app post a lot of messages on my behalf. Yes I had granted it permission to, but thought there may have been clearer notification within the App.

    Alter Wall Posting Behaviour
    If you don’t want this to happen, straight after you have Connected to Facebook with the App, hit the Cog, on the people bar and click ‘Disable Posting To Facebook’.

    You will still be able to manually have share links etc, as well as being able to access your friends list.

    Initial Thoughts
    Some of my tweets on the subject were rather strong, due to being shocked that even though I had granted access, I was not made aware of the implication. In another post, I’ll likely look at how mflow use Facebook and Twitter integration, and see if their method is more transparent to the user, as well as appearing ‘less spammy’ to the end user.

    There is some great optional implementation of sharing to social networks, just next time Spotify let me know OK? See this way looks fine to me:

    This also ties in the talk by danah boyd, at SXSW regarding approaches to Privacy & Publicity; sometimes companies will encroach on whats reasonable, and then potentially take a step back ‘a la’ Google Buzz.

    Some thoughts for you, please leave a comment…

    • Was it clear to you what access you granted it?
    • How did you react when you spotted it posting away to your wall?
    • Obvious it was going to do so?
    • Obvious how to stop it?
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  • scissors
    April 13th, 2010Neil HUncategorized

    Last year I discussed some of the tools I was finding useful for running my company. This post is an extension of that and discusses how things have changed now.

    The biggest change is regarding finances, and how we handle them. Previously we had used Freshbooks for our Invoicing needs, and also used it to track expenses. This worked to a degree, but due to the nature of our revenue streams we had items that were ‘off book’ and we couldn’t account for them in FB, instead a variety of spreadsheets and other tools were needed to keep on top of everything.

    The issue we were finding was two fold,
    1) Proper tracking of all our revenue streams and being able to segment our expenses into P/L accounts with decent breakdowns, budgettng etc. [And not just things we had invoiced].
    2) And how much have we spent, over time by category.

    It’s not to say that Freshbooks doesn’t work well. I could easily see how if you were a freelancer, and doing timetracking, and rebilling expenses to clients that it suits your needs. For us, we needed accounting details, and thought it was time to see what else was out there.

    There are variety of SaaS web accounting packages out there, and the one we went for was Xero. A personal recommendation secured it, easily when it was referred to as ‘idiot proof’ - perfect for my needs.

    Quite simply Xero allows us to have information about our bank accounts (including paypal), and set up automatic rules for dealing with transactions that are not Accounts Receivable/Invoiced based (i.e Google Adsense earning, users buying subscriptions, and clothing orders).

    For FY11 we will be able to setup our budgeting, and have one or two views that really give us an overview into how the ‘business’ is running.  All we want is for Kitecrowd to get into the black, and with Xero we now have much more of an idea as to what our core expenses truly are, and what those ‘one off costs’ of year one really amount to.

    Due to Xero being able to handle our Invoicing needs, we will be dropping Freshbooks. It’s certainly worth a look though if you use other accounting packages, and l’d strongly suggest testing the market – only by trying things will you know what will allow you an effective workflow.

    I’d also like to say how good the service is from Freshbooks, and Xero. A welcome from Xero, and an enquiry from Mike McDerment Freshbook CEO about what I was finding hard with expenses, and why I’m switching. So Mike, this is for you – you guys rock, and served my needs well, but you just at this moment in time don’t allow me to get enough information about how my business is operating.

    On an aside, Xero can integrate with Freshbooks, but we are a small company, and can’t afford to be paying for two solutions that handle Invoicing/Expenses. When one of them also handles the rest of our accounting functions, maybe this will change in the future, maybe it won’t. Either way Freshbooks it’s been fun using you.

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