An approach to Live Chat

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I recently wrote on the QuickSchools Blog on why QuickSchools doesn’t really have online help files, manuals or documentations. And it’s something we get asked about a lot. And to mitigate this, QuickSchools offers live chat support to all its customers. I thought I’d elaborate on this a little bit here, particularly since I think this approach is quite different from other SaaS companies out there. More

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More on Remote Support

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A few months ago, I wrote about Remote Support software, and mentioned a few players out there like GotoAssist, CrossLoop and YuuGuu. Well today, I had a chance to try out ZohoMeeting, which is another screen sharing / remote support program. It came recommended by a potential customer I was speaking to just a few days ago. And I have to say, I like it. More

Screen Capture for Demos

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Yesterday, I attempted to give a demo of QuickSchools to a school in Nigeria from my home in Kingston Ontario. Needless to say, the experience could have been better. The internet connection was slow, to say the least, causing my screen sharing program to appear sluggish, and sometimes frozen, on his end. The phone line wasn’t that great either. And he needed to see what the software could do for his school.

Looking at other SaaS companies out there, the service we’re providing should be as self-service as possible. Or at least, it should move in that direction, so that you cover most of your customer base. Some SaaS companies may or may not choose to invest in providing additional customer service, via live chat and email, for the remaining customer base. But that’s a separate issue. For a SaaS company to be successful, in my opinion, the user should be able to consume the service with little to no interaction with a customer service representative. More

Screen Sharing / Remote Support

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For the longest time, I wondered if there was a free screen sharing program out there, that I could use to help support people remotely. And for the longest time, I’d been looking in the wrong place. When you look for “screen sharing”, you’re essentially looking for software that allows other users to see YOUR screen, to do demos and stuff. But what I really needed was to be able to see the OTHER user’s screen, and have control of their keyboard and mouse.

The proper search term you should be looking for is “remote support”. These systems will allow other users to share their screen with you (so it’s similar to screen sharing), and in addition allow you to control their keyboard and mouse as well. Pretty cool, huh? I used to be dumbfounded when I first saw this capability several years ago. And I get the same reaction talking to people whose desktop I was poking around in. More

Google Runs My Life

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Google Runs My Life
I’ve been meaning to write about how Google Runs My Life for a few weeks now, ever since I realized how dependent I’ve become on Google and the free services they provide. It’s hard to imagine that a mere 10 years ago, I hadn’t even heard of Google. And I only came to know Google from a work colleague who recommended it as a search engine back in 2000. And now, 10 years later, Google is almost synonymous with the internet. With Google owning 70-80% of the search engine market place (or is it more?), some might say that “Google IS the Internet”.
Google has really enabled me to live off the cloud. It all began some 5 years ago when another work colleague of mine introduced me to Google Mail, or Gmail. At the time, I had always used Yahoo Mail, and I still do today, mostly just to keep it active. Gmail is now my main email account. But at the time, Gmail was the first to offer free email up to 1GB, and that was a lot at the time. Its user interface made it really easy to use and navigate. It wasn’t slow. Furthermore, Gmail allowed me to access mail from my other accounts, as well as send out email on behalf of these accounts. What more would I need? I get plenty of space, it’s fast, and I don’t have to download my mail to view it. That was the beginning of my reliance on Google.
A year later, Google launched Google Earth, which was a fascinating project at the time. This has evolved, and though I don’t use Google Earth anymore (since it requires installation), Google Maps is now my default engine for searching locations and finding directions. The ability to zoom in and out via the mouse scroller, and dragging the map around, really convinced me to stick with it. And even now on my BlackBerry, it readily integrates with GPS to show me where I am at all times.
Soon after I started using Gmail, Google introduced Google Calendar. I used it sporadically when it was first released, namely because there weren’t that many people using it. And Google Calendar is really a tool for sharing. There’s no point using it, if there’s no one to share it with. But since getting my wife on it, we’ve been able to share our schedule online at all times. And I’ve come to rely on this schedule to communicate tasks and events, both for work and for family. And now I can quickly remind myself of these events and tasks without having to constantly communicate with people around me.
Now most recently, I’ve started to use Google Reader. I read a lot of blogs both from family and friends, as well as from work colleagues and from industry. Google Reader allows me to subscribe to RSS feeds and track which articles are new, and which articles I’ve read. And so I’m quickly informed of new posts without having to individually check blog sites every day. Now I know that there are many RSS aggregators out there that do just the same thing, but being a Google user, it makes it so much easier to stick with Google, especially since their applications are intrinsically so easy to use. Why would I even bother to look elsewhere, even if there are better applications out there? I’d only need to keep one set of username and password by sticking with Google, and I don’t need to share my personal information on another foreign system on the internet.
How else does Google run my life? I love Google Chrome as a browser. I still use Mozilla Firefox for variety, but Chrome is excellent as is. And Google’s coming out with a few new things, like the Google OS and Google Wave, both of which appear extremely interesting to me. That’s a lot of applications for one user to use from just one provider.
So now thinking about it, do I really want Google to run my life the way it does? To be frank though, Google doesn’t really run my life. I rely on their services to run my life. But if Google were to go away, it would mean a serious adjustment on my end. I think Google can get away with a lot with such a large and reliant user base. They just need to make the right decisions. Where will they go next? I don’t know. Will I follow them? Probably… But can I live without them? Probably so too… but it would be hard.
Anyway, hats off to Google for doing a great job. I’m slowly starting to think that Google might be the next Microsoft with a monopoly on the market. But so long as they act in good faith, and they don’t try to force the market to go certain ways, then they should keep a healthy following of users who’ll use what they provide.

I’ve been meaning to write about how Google Runs My Life for a few weeks now, ever since I realized how dependent I’ve become on Google and the free services they provide. It’s hard to imagine that a mere 10 years ago, I hadn’t even heard of Google. And I only came to know Google from a work colleague who recommended it as a search engine back in 2000. And now, 10 years later, Google is almost synonymous with the internet. With Google owning 70-80% of the search engine market place (or is it more?), some might say that “Google IS the Internet”.

Google has really enabled me to live off the cloud. It all began some 5 years ago when another work colleague of mine introduced me to Google Mail, or Gmail. At the time, I had always used Yahoo Mail, and I still do today, mostly just to keep it active. Gmail is now my main email account. But at the time, Gmail was the first to offer free email up to 1GB, and that was a lot at the time. Its user interface made it really easy to use and navigate. It wasn’t slow. Furthermore, Gmail allowed me to access mail from my other accounts, as well as send out email on behalf of these accounts. What more would I need? I get plenty of space, it’s fast, and I don’t have to download my mail to view it. That was the beginning of my reliance on Google. More

Company Culture

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I originally wanted to write about my experience working from home, and how it affects (or is affected by) company culture. Employees who work remotely constantly deal with communication issues and staying connected with the company. But midway through my writing, I realized that the subject of company culture is rather large and worthy of its own entry. And so here I write about my views on company culture (with perhaps a future post about working from home referencing this one).

I consider myself very lucky and extremely fortunate to have worked with a great company right after graduating from college. If you’re only given one chance to make a first impression, then your first job really has the potential of shaping your entire perspective on work, and what it means to you – your work philosophy. Every subsequent job experience, though different and unique, will not have the same impact as the first. Perhaps it’s just me, but I really learned a lot from the first company I worked with. It has defined my work philosophy.

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Go ZipCar Go

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If you’re thinking of getting a car, or if you’re thinking of ditching your old car because it’s too expensive to maintain, let me introduce you to ZipCar.Com. I’ve been a ZipCar member since February 2008, and it’s been a really great experience for me.

So what is ZipCar? ZipCar.Com is a service that allows members to rent any car within their network quickly and easily, and for short periods of time.

How’s it different from a regular car rental company? ZipCar.Com is really more of a car-replacement program. If you’re a ZipCar member, then you have access to a car when you need it, without the hassle that comes with ownership, like paying for maintenance, gas, and insurance. It’s a really a great substitute if you don’t use your car everyday.

And if you’ve never owned a car before, it’s a good place to start building your driving history. Because the ZipCar program insures you while you’re a member, your driving history with ZipCar qualifies you for a lower insurance rate (for when you do decide to buy your own car). More

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