Phuser Summer Newsletter

August 10, 2007

Hello Phusers!Summer Phusing!

Summer Phusing!Summer Phusing!We’ve been hard at work here at Phuser HQ and have some exciting new things for you to try. You may remember that Phuses are a great way to discuss, plan and share with your friends and colleagues. This could be a sports team, group holiday, project or discussing something you are passionate about.

  New Open Phuses

Start an Open Phuse and anyone in your network can join! This makes it easier to get discussions going. You can ask for advice or opinions or just talk about something you like and anyone in your network can take part. When you Start a New Phuse you can easily choose whether it is Open or Closed. Try creating a new Open Phuse now and see who joins in! Start a Phuse

What used to be normal Phuses where you invited everyone individually are now callmrphuser.pnged Closed Phuses. They are still there for those Private plans and discussions. All your existing Phuses are Closed but why not make some of them Open? Just go into a Phuse you created and click Edit.

New Phuser Spokesperson

You have a new person in your network! He is called Mr Phuser and he is helping us launch Open Phuses. Mr Phuser has many interests (like cheese) and has started creating Open Phuses for them. Take a look at them and join in the discussion! He also loves receiving messages and SMS! If you don’t want Mr Phuser in your network just click on him to look at his profile and then click Remove from Network. Don’t worry, he won’t be offended.

Limited! Invite new people bumper blowout

Mr Phuser wants more friends! So much that he is giving out Phuse Power Points . For every person you invite in the next 48 hours he will give you 100 Points, if they sign up he will give you another 400 points!

Happy Phusing! Sign into Phuser now!

George Black
         &
The Phuser Team

P.S. Any feedback welcome!

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Find it fast with phuser

April 20, 2007

It’s Friday and that means upgrade time at phuser.  One short week since our last installment but still we’ve managed to dig up a couple of tasty morsels for you to savour…

There are two new features that should appeal to the phuser neophiles amongst you.  We can’t decide which is our favourite so we’ll call it a tie and let you make up your mind. So, in alphabetical order, in joint first place:

Friend finderFriend Finder

This piece of phuser goodness is a boon to anyone using phuser Quick SMS and Email features.  Now, from your phuser homepage you can instantly call up friends from My Network.  A list of matching friends appears as you type, and you can instantly go to their profile, start a phuse with them or message them directly.  SMSing your friends with phuser just got even easier!  (Tip: Make your SMS appear to come from your own number – Register your mobile).

Find a phuse

We know that a number of you with busy phuses have been asking for a Search feature.  Well at last we have one, and we’re pretty pleased with it.  Enter your search on My phuses and you’ll see a tastefully presented list of results:

Search results

 

The first line is the phuse of course, then the Activity (Poll, Question etc), and the remaining lines show exactly where the match was found. Simple.

 

Invite from phuseThe runner-up in our list of new features is an improvement to the phuse Members page, inspired by Chris who is organising a Stag do with phuser.  This page now lets you invite any phuse members who aren’t already in your network, which of course means you can get more from phuse Broadcasting (see last week’s update): 

 

Happy phusing!

 


Shaping up

April 13, 2007

It’s been a long and arduous week here at phuser Central, but as Friday draws to a close and everyone else slopes off to the pub we can at last announce our latest version of phuser.

If you haven’t visited phuser in a while you will notice quite a few changes for the better.  Easier phuses, easier invitations and easier groups to name just a few.  Even the most dedicated follower of phuser phashion (ahem) will notice several welcome improvements in this release.

PhuserCastOur favourite new toy is phuse Broadcast.  It debuted a couple of weeks ago but now we have polished and honed it.  In a nutshell, all your phuses are given a short code which you can see at the top ofthe phuse and in My phuses:

Simply send an SMS text message starting with your code, followed by your message to phuser at +44 7624806185 (which of course you have saved in your phone ), and phuser will SMS your message to everyone else in the phuse. Did we say that it’ll appear to come from your phone number so that replies come straight back to you? Or that people without a phone will at least get an email? It’s all true.

And we thought it was good. Good yes, but perhaps not good enough. So we improved it.  phuser goes to great lengths to create the shortest possible Broadcast codes for your phuses, but we decided to go one better.  So now you can set your own memorable keyword as an alternative to the Broadcast code that phuser provides.  Just click change next to a code and you’re off:

We’ve also sorted out a long-standing gripe that has bugged many of our trusty beta-users.  Photo Album now keeps track of which pics you’ve looked at so that the New Comments  and New Pictures  icons are at last meaningful.  Trust us, this is better than it sounds.  The sighs of relief and aura of inner contentment that emenated from various phuser staff when this was being tested were palpable.

What else?

There’s a new Group Wizard so you can get more out of My Network. First-timers will go through it when they join, the rest of you can find it in My Network. It’ll help you choose the privacy settings for the group, add people from your Network and even invite new people if you need to.

The list of phuses on the home page has been improved too, and as promised My phuses has received its second installment of usability improvements.

Now that we are a couple of months into our beta trial we’re going to cut loose a little.  For example, everyone can now invite up to 25 new people to phuser. So get inviting (and don’t forget our GMail address book importer!).  If 25 isn’t enough for you, just ask.

Then there’s the traditional slew of bug fixes and tweak of course. Lots this time around. Everything from fixing the ordering of messages in Sent Messages to sorting out broken phuse Alerts (which by the way is the new catchier name for Notifications), to say nothing of broken links and some obscure but important privacy fixes.  Styling tweaks, code fixes, it’s all in there.

Finally, don’t forget to post in the phuser forum with your thoughts. Feedback from our esteemed beta-users has already shaped phuser considerably, so why not stick your oar in?

As always, new user are more than welcome so if you haven’t already, request an invitation.


Out with the old

April 2, 2007

If you still haven’t started your own phuse, now is the time to give it a go.  Our latest release, out last Friday, introduces the fruits of our ‘phuse process rethink’.  That’s just dull in-house-speak for ‘Making it easier and more engaging’.  Here are some of the changes that seasoned phusers will notice:

1) ‘New phuse’ is now ‘Start a phuse’.  Instead of creating an empty phuse and expecting you to know what to do next, phuser will lead you step-by-step through the process of creating the phuse, adding some people and adding your first activity.

2) ‘phuseBlocks’ are dead. In name at least, if not in spirit.  We’re reducing the jargon and figured it was easier just to talk about Date Deciders, Photo Albums and Polls, rather than ‘Date Decider phuseBlock’ etc.  This has been a traumatic decision for us so please be gentle whilst we adapt.

3) We’ve put a bit more emphasis on what makes up a phuse.  Logical really since that is what phuser is all about. Instead of a phuse simply being an empty box which you fill with Polls, Questions etc, the phuse itself now has its own introduction and picture, letting you ‘set the scene’ more easily:

       

This means that what used to be the ‘Introduction’ phuseBlock is now Note. Simple.  Oh, and ‘Photo Sharing’ is now Photo Album. Not sure how we missed that one…

4) Each of your phuses now has a code so that you can SMS a message to phuser, prefixed with the phuse relay code, and your message will be ‘relayed’ to all the other phuse members. Quickly and simple. Even if they don’t have a phone, they’ll get an email instead!  A bit like Twitter, but without all the twitter.

 5) We’re working on making My phuses clearer and more useful.  The first sweep of changes are live now, more are on the way.

6) We’ve redesigned the way you add people to a phuse.  Big changes here – the best way to see what we’ve done is to give it a go

7) When you’re looking at a phuse, we’ve tweaked the left-bar so that you see people’s profile pictures.  We chopped out a couple of less useful items too.

 8) We’ve re-organised My Network, especially the Invitation pages.  Now you can invite many people in one go or use the GMail address-book importer.

Of course there’s the usual slew of bug fixes and minor tweaks – around 30 in all covering everything from invitations and messaging to dud images and broken tick-boxes.

Don’t forget to let us know what you make of these changes, or anything else about phuser, in the forum.

Want to try all this phusing goodness but don’t have an account? Just ask! 


Stepping backward to go forward

March 19, 2007

Beta trials are a funny thing.  From the inside, it can often feel like not much ‘real’ progress is being made.  This is actually incorrect.  It’s just that the progress isn’t being made in the areas one anticipated.  Just as one envisages a pioneering path forward, feedback and usage statistics filter back and force the Big Plans to go on the back-burner.

Now that phuser is finally ‘out there’, we’ve been amassing a growing list of ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to have….‘ items on our wishlist.  Many of these are suggested by our enthusistic set of early-adopters (for which we are always grateful), whilst others strike the various members of the phuser team at suitably inconvenient times.  These are invariably exciting ideas that give a hint of how phuser can develop in areas we’ve barely considered to date.  So it is both difficult and not a little frustrating for us to step back and concede that those things will have to wait.  But wait they must.

Anyone who has been following this blog will have noticed that a key focus for us right now is to simplify the phuser concept for those that haven’t been living, breathing and sleeping it for 3 years.  We know that once people get into phuser, they like what it offers and the community it fosters.  But we also know that new users can be left high-and-dry without much guidance.  We started tackling this in the previous couple of releases and the work is by no means over.  Version 0.11.5, out last Friday, continues the quest. 

First off, we’ve reviewed some basic stuff like colours and fonts. No radical changes, but hopefully people with smaller or less-than-vibrant screens will have an easier time of it now.  We’re also introducing a colour-coding scheme – phuseBlocks are green (as they always were),  My Network is blue and phuses are a fetching shade of palegoldenrod yellow.  We’ll be refining and extending this in future releases, with schemes for My Messages and other parts of phuser.

Start a phuseNext up, we’ve given some fresh thought to how phuses are created.  Previously, we assumed the poor user would always know exactly what they wanted to do and why.  This assumption is demonstrably false!  And no, it’s not a reflection on the user, but an acknowledgment that phuser may not be the number 1 most important thing in their lives. Strange we know, but sadly we are assured it’s true. After detailed analysis our statisticians told us that there are far too many phuses with no phuseblocks and no people in them, and our marketing bods told us that a phuse with no members or content is A Bad Thing.  Our Behavioural Research Dept then concluded that new users were creating their first phuse and were unclear how to proceed.  Suitably chastened, the backroom boys got down and dirty and eventually countered by introducing some sweeping changes to the phuse creation process.  Now, the user is lead through various stages in a manageable, step-by-step fashion.  The first of these changes is in the new version and you can expect to see some big changes in the next few releases!

Every phuser release must include a fair smattering of less than earth-shattering but nevertheless essential fixes behind the scenes and this one is no different, with a particular focus this time on some notification and messaging bugs.  We also have:

1) Auto-import from address book. As requested by our valiant beta users, you can now import contacts from gmail.  Other email services will be added later, based on demand. Tell us which services you’d like us to support.  At the moment the access to this page is via a somewhat obscure link in the left-bar under My Network but we will be integrating it more nicely in the next release.

2) ‘Try a phuse’ wizard. Anyone who has never created a phuse will now see a big button on their home page.  Press it and you can create a simple and rather silly Poll with a few friends!  If you’re not seeing the button because you have already mastered phuses you can still give the wizard a go here.

3) What kind of phuser are you?

 Have you not yet joined phuser? The beta trial is free (we even give you SMS credits to play with). Request an invitation now!


Day 46 – The (beta) trial continues

March 2, 2007

At 16:08:12 today a new release of phuser hit the servers.

This one continues the vein of the previous release – consolidation before expansion.  With an emphasis on gripes and problems reported by our early-users, the 43 documented changes cover all manner of things from Help to better handling of bounced email:

1) New Getting Started Walkthrough. This is the first draft of one of a series of walkthroughs we are developing right now.  Whether you are an elite-phuser or a nervous novice, take a couple of minutes to step through the guide and tell us what you think. Once we’re happy that the style and approach is hitting the spot we’ll refine the presentation and add new walkthroughs over the next few releases.  The intro tour has also been re-jigged, so if you still know nothing about phuser then this is the place to start.

2) It’s annoying when you send a phuse member a Question or Poll phuseBlock email and it bounces or hits an auto-reply service. Your nice phuse gets filled with ugly administration email. Well not any more.  phuser is a bit more alert these days and will replace these messages with a short notice so you know what happened.  Because of email’s ad-hoc nature this isn’t perfect, so if any nasty bounces or auto-replies end up in your phuse please tell us and we’ll deal with it.

3) Calendar Coordinator is dead .   Long live Date Decider . Thanks to everyone who voted for this in the phuser GUI improvements phuse

4) New smileys.

5)  Ever wanted to invite loads of your 2nd degree friends into your phuser network at once? It was a bit of a pain before. Now you can just tick the tick boxes in your profile page or in your friend’s profile page. 

6)  Improved support for BB code in phuseblocks etc.   

7) Stacks of niggly bugs and inconsistencies have been nailed.  A selection of which:

  • Ordering phuses in my phuses by ‘Created’ actually works now.
  • Accidentally inviting an existing network member no longer gives an error.
  • Calendary Coordinator  Date Decider: Correct list of message recipients when using resend feature. Other minor tweaks to the UI.
  • No longer forced to send a message when conluding phuseBlocks.
  • Privacy loophole fixed – phuseBlock creators were able to contact phuse members outside their network.
  •  The phuseBlock Gallery has returned to form after a long illness.
  • Loads of other things that are too dull even for this bullet list.

Remember, phuser accounts are by invitation at the moment so if you don’t have one and would like to join our esteemed and mostly merry band of beta users,  just ask.


Smoothing the path

February 20, 2007

A new version of phuser is out today.

Compared to most phuser upgrades, the focus of this release is a little unusual.  Apart from the new Home Page, which we hope is a bit punchier than the old one, regular users won’t notice too much change other than a couple of modest enhancements:

Expand active phuseBlocks1) 1st and 2nd degree friends are now shown in seperate boxes when you view your own profile.

2) When you look at a phuse, a new control near the top expands the overviews of all phuseBlocks that have had some action since you last looked – see right:

“Is that it?” you ask?

Well no.

 One of the best things about this beta phase is that we finally get to see what works and what doesn’t.  With the invaluable help of our active early users we’ve already uncovered a stack of things to sort out.  But as often as not, we’re learning that ‘what doesn’t work’ can be something quite intangible and conceptual rather than something solid and functional.

For example, we know that new people joining phuser, especially those who haven’t had the benefit of a helping hand from an phuser veteran, can have a hard landing once they sign up.  It’s not clear to them what they should do first, or even why they’re there! So we ask ourselves:

‘How do we get the phuser concept across to new people without smothering them with excess verbiage?’ 

That is the thorny question we are grappling with at the moment.  So as part of our plan to improve this side of things we have a new phuser Home Page and a new Tour.  Whether you’re familiar with phuser or not, why not try the tour and let us know if it works for you.  (Existing phusers – please post on the forum!)

There’s also a new phuse wizard and welcome/landing page in the works to help new users find their bearings and create their first phuse.  The tutorials have been updated too.

This process of smoothing the path for new users is a critical one and we know we still have a lot of work to do until it’s as easy and straightfoward as it needs to be. Stay tuned.