Tim’s Weblog Tim's Weblog
Tim Strehle’s links and thoughts on Web apps, managing software development and Digital Asset Management, since 2002.

Ben Horowitz: Good product manager, bad product manager

Ben Horowitz back in 1996 – Good product manager, bad product manager:

“Good product managers know the market, the product, the product line and the competition extremely well and operate from a strong basis of knowledge and confidence.

[…] Bad product managers have lots of excuses. Not enough funding, the engineering manager is an idiot, Microsoft has 10 times as many engineers working on it, I'm overworked, I don't get enough direction.

[…] Good product managers create collateral, FAQs, presentations, and white papers that can be leveraged. Bad product managers complain that they spend all day answering questions for the sales force and are swamped. Good product managers anticipate the serious product flaws and build real solutions. Bad product managers put out fires all day.

[…] Good product managers define good products that can be executed with a strong effort. Bad product managers define good products that can't be executed or let engineering build whatever they want (i.e. solve the hardest problem).”

Apparently a classic, but new to me.

Mon, 26 May 2014 07:14:41 +0000

Matt Ellis: Singing the Praises of Chorus

Matt Ellis – Singing the Praises of Chorus:

“Everyone is singing the praises for Chorus, Vox Media's own CMS.

[…] Chorus is doing most of the duties of online journalists for them! It conducts automatic word scans, then finds and links it to other related texts. It also brings up relevant (and licensed) photos and videos available for use. That frees up the writers to focus more of their time on writing.”

Sun, 25 May 2014 21:34:28 +0000

Edmund Jorgensen: Speeding Up Your Engineering Org: Beyond the Cost Center Mentality

Edmund Jorgensen – Speeding Up Your Engineering Org, Part I: Beyond the Cost Center Mentality:

“You may have shifted your efforts from the impossible task of making the org go faster to the thankless but crucial job of jealously guarding how engineers spend their time—because as it takes longer and longer to get even simple features out the door, those engineering hours become increasingly precious.

[…] You've been around long enough to know that there won't be any "calm periods" when there's time for your engineers to scratch these other itches—after the Facebook for Cats integration goes out, you'll be right on to integrating with Twitter for Dogs, or LinkedIn for Ferrets. So on this fine morning someone has to make a real and uncomfortable decision: either tell Cindy and Scott to stop complaining and get back to feature work, or let product and the CEO know that you're going to spend some engineering hours on something other than features.

[…] Sometimes the "more money" you expect in return comes from features for which customers will pay, but often (as in our thought experiment) it comes in the form of valuable information, or—if you're doing it right—a reduction in (or prevention of) latency for future work, which, as we've just shown with our thought experiment, is worth actual money.”

Sun, 25 May 2014 20:50:28 +0000

Ralph Windsor: The Rise and Fall of the Imperial Enterprise DAM

Ralph Windsor – The Rise and Fall of the Imperial Enterprise DAM:

“The problems of each group of users are too diverse for one single solution to be able to answer them all. What invariably happens is either the software becomes bloated and buggy as conflicting needs clash with each other and the developers try to resolve them with numerous options and settings which in turn require skilled engineers to alter, or requests to make amendments are ignored as not being sufficiently important to justify the hassle and cost.

[…] I would still avoid the typical reductionist IT tendency to over-rationalize and generate numerous unplanned productivity problems just because it seems like a neat and tidy thing to do.”

Wed, 21 May 2014 06:29:07 +0000

Short links (2014-05-19)

Mon, 19 May 2014 21:25:46 +0000

My “Planet DAM”

I’m working in Digital Asset Management and love reading DAM news, and learning about technology, products, and trends. It took me a while to find all the sources for DAM information. If you’d like to dive into the world of DAM news too, you can spare most of that work by starting with my Planet DAM page:

A list of DAM products,

the latest articles (automatically gathered from RSS feeds),

and what’s currently happening on Twitter (I’m maintaining a DAM list there).

I hope this is useful to some of you. Please let me know if you think something’s missing!

(The name “Planet DAM” borrows from the Planet “river of news” feed reader that many topic-focused news-gathering sites are based on. I’m not using that feed reader, though; our DC-X DAM has an RSS / Atom feed importer which is easier to work with if you’re running a DAM anyway.)

Mon, 19 May 2014 06:58:50 +0000

How I archive Web pages in the DAM (screencast)

Since July 2011, I’ve been archiving interesting Web pages in my personal instance of DC-X (the Digital Asset Management system our company is building). My archive contains 12,300 pages already and is growing daily.

I’m totally in love with this feature: It’s my “private file and library” (a quote from Vannevar Bush’s 1945 As We May Think) – a highly relevant, searchable pool of content I might want to revisit or read later. In an instant, I get back to that great or helpful article when I need it. It’s also a tool for curating the links I’m publishing here. And finally, a backup for the day when these articles vanish from the Web or the links to them break (sooner or later, this happens to most of them).

The alternatives don’t cut it for me: Browser bookmarks or Safari’s “reading list” don’t scale well to 10,000 pages, and have very limited search/browse functionality. Services like Delicious or Pinterest can’t be trusted with an archive (which I expect to last for decades). And software that does the archiving from a server process doesn’t see the page exactly as I’m seeing it, and fails at sites that require authentication.

I couldn’t build up this archive if the process wasn’t quick and easy (no metadata entry required). It requires a small Firefox add-on that I custom-built for myself (no customers are using this feature yet). The browser add-on takes a screenshot of the currently displayed page and posts it, along with the HTML source code, to the DAM in a new browser tab. The DC-X DAM asks me to log in (only once per day), creates an import job and waits for its completion. Then I’m redirected to the details page of the “archived Web page” document that was just created. Here’s a screencast:

How are you keeping track of important Web pages? What’s your personal digital archiving workflow?

Sun, 04 May 2014 20:17:17 +0000

Short links (2014-05-04)

Sat, 03 May 2014 22:24:09 +0000