Rob Caraway

Programmer. I love New Orleans and the software business.

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The Dreaded “Salesman”

The funny thing about sales — we tend to associate the word “salesman” with people who fail at selling or trick us to buy. “Oh he was obviously just trying to get me to buy his product”.  I often rehearse my responses beforehand if I know I’m about to talk to someone whose going to try to upsell me.

The weird thing is when you’ve gained my trust, you’re not a salesman anymore — your a friend, a mentor, someone who has gone out of their way to find a pain point in my life to solve.  You helped bring value into my life.  

The best selling doesn’t seem like selling at all.  That’s why word-of-mouth is so effective in helping a product grow — your best friends already have truckloads of your trust.  We’ll use a product they recommend without thinking twice about it.  And we certainly don’t accuse them of being salesman.  

So, in the end, “salesman” means people either manipulating us to buy things we don’t want, or failing to convey why we would want it which is funny because that’s the opposite of what a good salesman actually is.  

Get back to Your Life! 5 Apps that Protect Your Time

I have some sort of mental gauge that goes off every time an app wastes my energy with useless bullshit or confusing UI. Once this gauge fills up (which doesn’t take much), I delete the app and find something else. 

This sometimes means zero apps tolerably solve my problem. I still haven’t completely replaced a paper calendar. I keep a majority of my personal to-do in a notebook. 

If the problem is bad enough, I will use a solution but cry about it every time I’m exposed to its faults. 

Bottom line: I want apps that save me time and brain cycles while helping me accomplish meaningful things. I don’t want to think. This is mostly because I want to have time for other awesome things (but also a little because I’m very insecure about shipping bad software myself). 

Here’s our list:

 

1. Clear.

When the term “Gamification” gets thrown around, several bad ideas surface about how this should be applied to apps. Many try to reward you with trivial achievements or worse- unlocking features that should be available to you anyway. 

Some go as far to punish you for bad behavior. Yikes. 

Fuck meaningless rewards. Clear gets it right by rewarding me with encouraging sounds, sleek gestures and animations, inspiring quotes when I finish a list, and a few easter eggs, all while remaining dead simple. 

Now THAT’s gamification.

 

2. Fantastical 2

I admit my cheap ass waited far too long to throw down the $5 to buy this app. Probably because all the other calendar apps I tried were mostly bloated crap and I’d developed a kind of PTSD for calendar apps. 

But this app is great. Reading my calendar as an ascending list is remarkably intuitive. They chose the right features to implement to make it beyond useful without complicating the UI. I do wish adding events and reminders was even easier though (hint, hint).

 

3. Mailbox 

I could check and sort my inbox with Mailbox while juggling . I’ve tried to think of a better email solution for the iPhone but I’m not sure there is. I don’t really distinguish between deleted and archived but maybe others do.

Even watching the status bar message makes me happy. Empty inbox feels like a party. It doesn’t get any better than that.

 
 

This app might be a wild-card pick in that it’s the interface is barely short of train-wreck status. It’s more about what the end result accomplishes: Daily Routine automates time blocking so I don’t have to think about what I’m suppose to be doing when. 

If you don’t time block, you should. Despite it’s UI feeling like a neverending maze, the finished result provides an unmatched experience for automating your routine. The notifications make it worth using over paper.

4.5 Valt (I originally labeled this plug as #6 but bitched out. I’m not THAT shameless though maybe I’d convert better if I was.)

I can sit here and bark all I want about how we all should create stronger, more secure passwords unique to every site, but let’s be real; we often don’t protect ourselves because it’s painful.  

The problem is even worse on a phone. Who wants to type a password like “fjdKLD3djSDAo39sJJ” every time they want to check their bank account?   

Valt securely remembers your important data and helps you autofill it on the web.  I wanted an app that I could access or create sensitive accounts in seconds — like in-between-traffic-light speed.  

There wasn’t anything available that had this light, fast, mobile-friendly interface I wanted so I built my own. I’ve actually trashed my bank and bill-paying apps because Valt moves faster.   

5. Mint

I wanted to be unique and hipster about my financial pick so that maybe I could introduce you to something new, but there’s still nothing that does easy finance tracking as well as Mint.  If finance apps require manual entry of my spending and budget, get that shit out of my face.

Level comes so close to being better but simply didn’t allow enough control on how much of my income is considered “spendable”.  Mint focuses on the amount coming in vs the amount going out, and that really all we need.

 
Do yourself a favor and get all these apps.  They help me keep a balanced life without wasting too much energy.

“An ambitious app is only as good as its walkthrough”

Why is the Paid App Market Dying? »

My first post to Medium.  I’ve had incredible opportunity and success on the App Store and thought I’d share my knowledge of App Store economics.

“The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint
The greats were great cause they paint a lot”

– Macklemore - Ten Thousand Hours

“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

-Gustave Flaubert

Valt Mobile First Password Keeper is Live. »

I had to fight off three back to back to back rejections overridden with my glorious appeals.  It was a rollercoaster of emotions.  Somehow, this means you should have no problem clicking the above link.

(If you need a mobile-first password manager, you’ll have a hard time finding one better designed)

5 Spectacular Articles You Have to Read from Medium.com

You never heard of Medium?  This site is awesome but somewhat hard to explain.  It’s like Twitter for Long-form posts.  Or maybe like Reddit for Long-form posts.  It’s like being able to post long form content without maintaining your own blog in a way where you’re content can “blow up” easily.

Anyway, just visit it. I’m going to start posting some of my long-form there. Here’s five articles I really enjoyed:

1. 10 Ways To Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered

It’s very important not to quit prematurely. The people who get what they’re after are very often the ones who just stick around long enough.

Full of awesome information about spreading yourself and living a good professional life.

2. What I Really Do When I Work from Home 

After all, my manager can’t actually see me working, so how can I prove that I am? It’s kind of like asking if a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, will it still be a productive employee?

Excellent write up on working from home instead of at the office full of gems like these.

3. How Much My Novel Cost Me

I was a young woman, so of course they had lumped me in with the cake-girl books. But my book was not cakey. I had no idea how to explain this to people. I clearly still don’t. Knowing how obnoxious it would sound, but feeling I had to say it anyway, if only to have said it, I told them that they had to “go all out.” “Say that I’m the voice of my generation,” I told them. They looked at me like I’d emitted a long, loud, smelly fart. And so—swear to god—I amended what I’d said:

“Okay, say I’m a voice of my generation.”

Straight up one of the best pieces of writing I’ve read on the internet.  I’m a Emily Gould fan now.  (Gathering an audience is effective on Medium, too).

4. Explain Bitcoin Like I’m Five

If you don’t get Bitcoin, you must read this.  You will get Bitcoin.

5. The Indian and his insatiable appetite for the college degree

Oh, you’re 22. Where do you work? Erm, you don’t work anywhere, are you studying? Oh, you’re an entrepreneur? Where did you get your MBA or Engineering degree?

An interesting look into entrepreneurism challenges faced in India where the upper middle class hivemind ruthlessly believes in college.

That is all.  Have a good day and START USING MEDIUM.  You’ll expand your audience.

Valt website is Live »

My Password Keeper app is on its way to the App Store, and the site is now live.  

I won’t waste time with a long pitch of the app, but it’s VERY GOOD at what it does well. And what it does well is speed and simplicity.  

Here’s a gif demo also found on the site (or if you prefer a higher quality video): 

If you’re big into productivity hacks, I’ve found using it has saved me ample time, especially when logging into banking sites and sites where you need to pay bills.  I’ve actually ditched my bank apps because Valt logs into them faster.