Archive for April, 2010

One User Per Week, featuring Stew Goss

by Maggie Ronan

For my One User Per Week chat this week, I spoke with Ralph “Stew” Goss, a loyal Xobni user since learning about our Outlook product back when Bill Gates demoed it during his keynote at the MS Office Developers Conference:

Stew Goss

Since February, Stew has been wearing many hats as an Application Specialist, Programmer, and IT wizard at the Portland, ME office of Redlon & Johnson, one of the nation’s leading wholesale distributors of industrial products.  Ever the evangelist, Stew told me one of his early moves there was to introduce his new Outlook-using coworkers to Xobni.  A highly technical data buff himself, Stew likes to share his appreciation for the power of Xobni’s approach to email search.  When he installs the software on new users’ machines, two of his favorite features to show off are Xobni’s attachment-finding speed and how you can zero in on a particular email by person, rather than typing in a keyword and choosing amongst every instance of that word in your email corpus.

Around the world with Xobni Analytics

At a previous organization, Stew worked in international customer service, frequently providing support on projects centered as far away as Korea and China.  With this extreme time zone difference came various logistical challenges, including an email schedule that caused his Outlook inbox to fill up during sleeping hours.  Rather than being daunted by this asynchronous flow of correspondence, Stew realized he had just the tool to manage it intelligently: Xobni Analytics!  When he read an email from a particular contact, he would take note of his or her sending patterns to get a sense of what time the contact was most likely to open his response.  Instead of constantly adding and subtracting hours to account for time zones, Stew said he could use the graphs* in Xobni Analytics to gauge the response time required and manage his work flow: if it was likely the middle of the night at his contact’s home base, “I knew I could wait until the end of the day to respond.”  This way, Stew could figure out which contacts would be apt to see his response first, and prioritize his emails accordingly.

Please sir, may I have some more Actions?

Stew was overall very satisfied by his experience with Xobni, but when pressed for constructive criticism, he did come forth with the suggestion that we could perhaps take better advantage of the “Actions” tab in the Xobni extensions panel.  Currently the actions available to users there are “Schedule time with…” (which auto-generates an email to set up a meeting with your contact with your availability as represented in your Outlook calendar) and “Email…” (which…well, opens a compose window so you can email that contact), and there is some unused space underneath the options shown there.  It’s interesting to think of ways we could capitalize on that spare real estate–keep an eye on that tab to see how that area develops, and if there are more actions you’d like to see available in the Xobni sidebar, do let us know.

In addition to his day job as a Xobni evangel–err, Application Specialist, Stew also runs GuruTech, a business that specializes in creating scripted products and doing custom work in Second Life.  Thanks Stew, for the great conversation.

If you’re interested in being featured in our One User Per Week blog series just comment on this post, and I’ll get in touch with you.  Phone calls are about 30 minutes long, generally pain-free, and have even been described by participants with words such as “enlightening,” “interesting,” “useful,” …and some even go so far as to say “fun.”

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*Even if you don’t actively use Xobni Analytics in the sidebar tab or popout window, it’s working for you every time you perform a search.  Your contacts’ Xobni Ranks dictate the order in which they appear in search results in the Xobni sidebar and in which they are AutoSuggested to you in the compose window (if you’re using Xobni Plus).

Xobni & Outlook 2010 – Together at last!

by Britton Glasser

This week is a big one for us, as we launch the Xobni for Outlook 2010 campaign to go with the product launch/review posted last week.  For all of you in the Seattle/Redmond area, you will see the sky graced, the buses flanked, the radio waves singing and the sign spinners shaking with nothing but Xobni love.  Now Xobni and Outlook 2010 are together again.  At last.

plane

Why did we launch this product with such fanfare?  The answer is easy.  Microsoft employees are some of Xobni’s best customers as they live and die in Outlook email.  We wanted to ensure they knew they could reunite with Xobni, now that it’s compatible with the Outlook 2010 software.

For all you folks in the Northwest, we have created a little fun… Take photos of the Xobni’s you see in the public; the plane, the bus, the sign spinners and post them to the Facebook Xobni Fan page – We will be randomly giving away t-shirts to some of the people who submit a photo.

There are also some great new features for Outlook 2003 and 2007, so take a look at this post for all the detail!

And don’t forget to download the latest version today!

Xobni for BlackBerry client update

by Michael Holzer

We’ve been cranking on the some terrific updates to the BlackBerry product, and we’re excited to share them with you.

In the first release we focused on the Xobni Automatic address book – finding all the email addresses and phone numbers that exist in your inbox and in your BlackBerry address book. Not to worry, we didn’t forget that sometimes systems need human intervention. Thus our latest feature; the ability to edit and merge contacts.

Edit contact using Xobni for BlackBerry

We’re going to keep cranking and you can expect more rapid fire releases in the coming weeks so stay tuned!

Y2K + 10. Xobni now fully supports Outlook 2010 32-bit and 64-bit!

by Josh Jacobson

Remember the massive effort undertaken to make sure that the world’s technology was ready for Y2K? The BBC reported that the work done in preparation for Y2K cost over $300 billion. Most of that work was considered a success if it remained completely invisible.

At Xobni, we’ve had our own little Y2K in recent weeks (minus the $300 billion price tag) and we call it “Y2K+10.” When Microsoft announced that Outlook 2010 would be available to consumers in June, we were excited to integrate with the updated platform. Since then, a select group of us have been heads-down (others were slightly pre-occupied). Integrating with the new 64-bit flavor of Outlook accounted for a hefty portion of the effort, though users of all versions of Outlook + Xobni will now benefit from that groundwork.

Today, I’m pleased to announce that Xobni now fully supports Outlook 2010 – a full six weeks prior to the expected consumer launch of the brand-new version of Outlook. In addition, Xobni 1.9.2 is also fully compatible with the free Outlook 2010 beta that is currently available to the public.

While most of our focus has been on making Xobni work seamlessly with Outlook 2010 (in fact this has been the #1 feature request recently), we have also incorporated Xobni into the new Outlook ribbon for 2010-only functionality. In addition, there are a few features, detailed below, that will be attractive to Xobni users with Outlook 2003 and 2007 as well.

So please download Xobni 1.9.2 (build 10908) and enjoy the “invisible” features today. 🙂

Update: CNET’s Download.com has given Xobni five out of five stars! See the full review.
Update 2: Build 10605 has been replaced with build 10908 to fix an “Xobni not loading” issue that some were experiencing.

(All features mentioned below are new since version 1.9.1 build 10169):

Xobni_192_blog_screenshot

Outlook 2010 Compatibility

  • All features available in previous versions are now working and optimized for Outlook 2010 (32-bit and 64-bit) public beta version and later.
  • New Quick-Access in the Ribbon (see illustration)
    – Search from Ribbon when Xobni sidebar is collapsed
    – Show/Hide Xobni sidebar with one click
    – Xobni menu always available
  • If multiple Outlook windows are open, clicking “Show/Hide Xobni” will move the Xobni sidebar to your current Outlook window.

Non-Administrator Install

  • Many users who are not “administrators” on their computers can now install Xobni.

Other Enhancements

  • Fewer conflicts experienced with other add-ins (Trend Micro Anti-Spam, for example)
  • Xobni AutoSuggestions can be deleted from the compose screen. Simply highlight the suggested email address you’d like to delete and hit the “delete” key. If you email that address again in the future, the suggestion will return after the next Xobni index process takes place.
  • Twitter profile images now show in business card area if a Twitter name is already chosen (see illustration).

More Minor Changes

  • Users of Xobni One who have more than one copy of Outlook will now see profile photos transfer from one Xobni sidebar to the other.
  • Photos of people appear in the Network tab instead of small grey or orange icons.
  • The Network section has been moved below the Files Exchanged section.
  • Task bar is now to the left of the Xobni bar in Outlook 2010
  • Xobni shows the recipient of the currently-selected email if the email is from you, no matter what folder it’s in. This is helpful for users that keep their sent mail outside of the default Sent Items folder.

Known Issues

  • In Outlook 2010, the minimized Xobni is slightly wider than in Outlook 2007
  • When the Xobni installer completes and runs Outlook for the first time, the message “Windows Desktop Search is not available” may appear at the bottom of Outlook. Restarting Outlook solves this permanently (details).

Please continue to let us know how we can keep improving your productivity through the Xobni Community, and thank you to everyone who participated in the topics that helped inform today’s update.

General info: After you download, you will be prompted to close Outlook and the new Xobni version will be installed. All of your data (merges, contact information entries) will be maintained, no matter what version you are using currently.
If you have already purchased Xobni Plus, this download will simply update your software. You will not need to sign in again and no extra fee is required.

Thanks for using Xobni!

Download the Latest Xobni Now

One User Per Week, featuring Koni Konigsberg

Koni Konigsberg

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Koni Konigsberg, Director of Operations at ROW Adventures, for this week’s One User Per Week interview.  After years of trip leading for the adventure travel company, Koni moved to the full-time position he currently holds, in which he coordinates the day-to-day operations of the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho*-based outfit.  Being Director if Operations involves a much-increased volume of admin work–including, inevitably, a ton of emailing.

Organizing email contacts, in and out of the water

Koni manages a group of full-time employees and seasonal trip leaders that tops out between 40 and 50 people.  Since a large number of the guides is on the road and in the water for rafting trips during the summer, he relies on email to coordinate this staff and ROW’s clients, to the point which he reports, like many of our users: “I live in Outlook.”  In the past, his method of organizing his email was to keep an individual Outlook folder for each employee and distributor he contacted, which required a lot of continuous maintenance on his part.  Xobni has totally changed his email habits since he discovered it a couple of years ago when Lifehacker gave away invites to our limited beta.  He now keeps only three folders: “Distributors,” “Guides,” and “Employees.”   Many Xobni users have reported doing away with Outlook folders altogether.

Keeping track of transients

While having a highly active group of guides clearly has its advantages for leading trips, it can be difficult to keep in touch with members of his staff in the off season, when they are often off on non-ROW-related adventures.  Yearly activities like sending birthday cards (and equally thrilling W-2 forms) used to be tricky when a guide changed email addresses and his manually-entered snail mail address from the Outlook address book was lost.  However, Koni has found that Xobni makes wintertime contact with his guides much easier, since by merging individual profiles as their contact info changes, he can keep an uninterrupted record of all of the communication he has had with them.  He’s also come to appreciate the Facebook friendships he was initially hesitant to accept from his guides, since he can see the cool stuff they’ve been up to in off season while he’s finding their contact info in Outlook.

Feature request: integration of companies’ social media profiles

Koni had a few interesting feature requests, including one in particular that struck a chord with me, since it applies to growing a company’s following across social media.  While he enjoys seeing the Twitter and Facebook streams of his individual Xobni contacts, he finds he’s often also interested in the social media action of his contact’s company, rather than just personal info.  Koni suggested that Xobni offer an option to set a contact’s profile to show her company’s Twitter and/or Facebook fan page stream, and perhaps the ability to toggle between the individual and company profiles.  I’d love to see this kind of functionality be added to the product.

It was great talking to Koni about his experience with Xobni.  If you’re interested in hearing more about ROW Adventures, check out their Facebook fan page.  And, as always, if you’re interested in being interviewed for One User Per Week (and gaining eternal Internet glory, as well as a free Xobni t-shirt), comment on this post and let me know.

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*If you’re looking for a beautiful, slightly-off-the-beaten-path spot to visit in the U.S., you could do a lot worse than Coeur d’Alene.  “Barbara Walters called the city ‘a little slice of Heaven’ and included it in her list of most fascinating places to visit.”

One User Per Week BlackBerry Edition, feat. Nan Palmero

nan palmero fw

Now that the public has had access to Xobni for BlackBerry for a few weeks, I thought it would be an opportune moment to feature a user of the new mobile app in our One User Per Week blog series.  I asked Tyler, who heads up our alpha forum, to put out an interview request to those who had been testers, and I was surprised that I recognized the name of the first respondent: Nan Palmero, the winner of last year’s holiday letter-writing contest.  Eager to learn more about Nan and hear a seasoned Xobni for Outlook user’s thoughts on Xobni for BlackBerry, I gave him a call this morning.

Many email accounts, many contacts

Nan’s day job is “Chief Inspiration Officer” at Sales By 5, a position in which, as the name suggests, he performs many typical duties of a CIO, including evaluating new technology for the company (not coincidentally, everyone there uses Xobni for Outlook), as well as internal and external team building, crafting marketing messages for clients, and a variety of other roles.  As though playing the part of inspiring all of the employees within his organization as well as clients doesn’t keep him (and his BlackBerry) busy enough, Nan also works as a contributing writer for BlackBerry Cool, a leading blog within the BB community.  With unique email accounts from these two positions, as well as a personal Gmail account, all feeding into his BlackBerry, staying on top of saving contact information in the phone is a real pain point for him.  While the BlackBerry itself only keeps email from the last 60 days, Nan observed that Xobni’s ability to bring in contact info from all historical email allows users to “do a deep dive and find the contact that was otherwise lost.”

Dodge awkward phone calls with Xobni for BlackBerry!

I asked Nan if there had been any instances during his use of Xobni for BlackBerry when it really came through for him in a notable way, and he did indeed have a story to share.  Recently he needed to arrange a lunch with an acquaintance with whom he knew he had exchanged emails in the past and whose contact info he could have sworn he had saved.  When he went to email her, her address was not autopopulating, and Nan feared that he would have to call her up and do the ol’ “I know we’ve emailed each other before, but I can’t…seem…to find…your address…” call.  Instead, Nan remembered that Xobni could pull up her email address instantly, even though he hadn’t saved it, and bam!–lunch scheduled, via email, and the world saw one fewer awkward phone call.

It was especially cool to hear Nan’s perspective on the BlackBerry app development process, as he is a BlackBerry power user as well as an alpha tester of Xobni for BB.  We really appreciate the support we get from him and all enthusiastic Xobni users–in fact, we count on it in order for our products to succeed.  If you’re interested in participating in a One User Per Week interview, leave a comment on this post, and I’ll be in touch.


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Xobni’s contact management products offer lightning fast email search and organization of your inbox, as well as an innovative and comprehensive address book for the mobile device.

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