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! 

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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.


Best ever phuser – new version now live

February 8, 2007

The phuser team is happy to announce that the first upgrade of phuser since our launch has gone smoothly.  This new version (evocatively named ‘v0.11.2’) includes several improvements suggested by our intrepid band of early adopters, as well as many fixes for things that came to light during phuser’s first appearance in the spotlight of public attention.

The full list of changes and fixes runs to 51 items, but some of the highlights that we think our users will welcome include:

  • Online indicatorSee which friends are around with the ‘Online’ indicator in profile and thumbnail views  (right)
  • See when a friend last signed in – now shown in their profile
  • View your own profile (e.g. click your username in the far top right) and see your complete network of 1st and 2nd degree friends (and your phusepower score!)
  • phuseBlock comments improved, with link and smiley support, reply method icon (web, email or SMS) and various other improvements
  • Top-menu rearranged following the results of the poll in our phuser GUI phuse
  • Collect phusepower points as you go about your daily phusing! Do points mean prizes? It’s too soon to say…
  • Invitation phuseBlock renamed to RSVP to avoid confusion with Network Invitations
  • Banish the ‘Input requested’ question-mark icon – click ‘Ignore’ on a phuseBlock (below)

Other less exciting but nevertheless sanity-saving fixes include:

  • Left-bar menu in My Network pages is hopefully more consistent and useful  
  • Occasional lingering ‘New phuseBlock’ icon even when there are none – now fixed.
  • Quicklink bar on Homepage now stays closed when you close it
  • Longer comments now permitted
  • Various fixes to phuseBlock creation and deletion
  • Names can now include apostrophes. Yes really.
  • Loads more…

See for yourselfRequest an invitation to join our community of beta users now.

Our thanks once again to everyone who has been giving such valuable feedback on the phuser forum.


Hello

February 7, 2007

This is the official blog for phuser.com – the antidote to Social Networking sites. The Beta version of phuser is now live so stop reading this and go and request an invitation. If you register with phuser now you can have a real input shaping how the site develops. Since the site is in Beta everything is completely free, including SMS sending.

phuser is Social Networking for your real-life friends. It lets you share private spaces, plan activities and collaborate with people you know. phuser provides useful tools for organising and messaging, it also intergrates with email and SMS.

This blog is where we’ll be posting official anouncements and news about phuser. As well as a few others things that we find that we decide are worth sharing with the world.

We hope you enjoy using, phuser.

The phuser Team