dailytraks – a mini-product from scratch – #2, the name

In my previous post I introduced you to a mini-product that I’ll be building in the open.

I talked about the idea, or the “why” of our product.

But hey, if we’re going to build a product we need a way to refer to it… basically everywhere.

It’s OK to call it “the product” but that’s cold and inexpressive and we don’t really like that, so we’ll need a name.

Don’t worry, this doesn’t have to be the final name – most likely it won’t be the final name – it just has to be easy to remember and easy to pronounce. Having a fun, catchy name helps.

So how do you get one?


  • you can be creative, like you know, randomly open a page of a book you like, or invent a new word
  • you can use a random name generator online
  • get professional help
  • brainstorm with colleagues, friends, family members or even strangers

At this point getting professional help (marketing, copy, branding, etc.) is premature. You can do that later.

Right now you just need a way to refer to your product – when talking to others or even thinking about it.

If you strike it lucky and find one that also reflects the why, even better.

I actually got to “dailytraks” by brainstorming with strangers. How? I went to http://chat.stackoverflow.com/ and asked.


After about fifteen minutes of that, some synonyms and abbreviations later and I got to dailytraks.

I like it, it reflects my why and because I cheated (checking domain names while brainstorming) I have a viable domain name for my product, which I actually bought off GoDaddy 5 minutes later.


Now, you shouldn’t go grab a domain for your product while you’re putting together your idea and thinking about a product name. I did that so I can brag about it in this post :)

dailytraks – a mini-product from scratch – #1, the idea

Because I need to tune my process I’m going to build a mini-product from scratch. First, some history. Once upon a time… just kidding.


So let’s begin.

The core product, idea, “the why” or the “benefit” is the first thing that we need to figure out. That’s the need for the product, and the seed crystal that everything else gravitates around.

You can get it from an instant flash, an organized idea pool or brainstorming session or you may even steal it (and make it better of course).

For this experiment everything started with a funny tweet from @notepadconf that led to me an article on lifehacker and then it hit me – an app that you can use to jot down  a little bit of text every day, like a daily log, a diary of sorts, or even a small poem is good idea for a semi-useful mini-product that wouldn’t draw me in the technical side of things but it would:

  • allow me to do an end-to-end product development tracer, from nothing to something user-accessible
  • allow me to fine tune my toolbelt and try some experiments with new third-party services

So, although you may just say “I’d just go and use Evernote” or “that’s what a text file on Github is for”, it’s not about that, it’s about building something new from scratch, in the open, as a kata.

Although ideas are pretty important, it’s good to know that they don’t hold all the weight. The implementation is far more important than the idea so don’t stress about you “giving your idea away” (if you’re working in a really competitive R&D sector I’d hold back on discussing my ideas, but most of the time nobody’ll steal your idea and work on it for a couple of years before it bares fruit) and talk freely about it – it helps.

So, my why is this: “Every day I write information in a text file on my desktop, I usually write small todos or snippets of text or things I’ve done, or some URL I want to revisit but I seldom do, or I delete it, or I forget to look at it ever again. I’d like to not lose this information, be able to look it up using a calendar, have it searchable, and from time to time randomly pop-up one of my dailies”

So my double personality is my client, and it has a need. That’ll have to do for now.

beautiful and friendly forms based on Bootstrap and popovers

If you’ve seen anything built with Bootstrap you’ll know that the overall  design is just beautiful.

Now, mix in that design mojo with the Popover functionality and you’ll get stunning and user-friendly forms like you’ve never had before. It’s so simple to implement and has such a great impact that I’m actually inclined to call this free end-user value. Continue reading beautiful and friendly forms based on Bootstrap and popovers

Everything is a project

From time to time people seriously ask me “how’d you manage to do that?” or “when do you get the time?”.

My regular answer – which surprisingly surprises people :) – is that I just plan for it and do it.

I treat things like little projects – everything from cooking to events to regular household chores.

You see, everything in life has a critical path, a set of dependencies, some constraints, a desired outcome, a list of available assets, required resources or even liabilities and risks. Sounds familiar? So everything in life can be treated like a project,  sketched, planned and executed.

Next, they ask things like “what if something doesn’t go according to plan?” – and I smile. I smile because I’ve never seen anything go according to plan, so I’m always ready for change.

Life is the longest project you’ll be part of and planning for it just makes it a lot easier.

Last week was probably the hardest week of my life and this mindset got me through it. Who knows, maybe sometimes I’ll even write about it.

A project objectives checklist

Objectives help your team to focus on the tasks at hand while not losing sight of the overall outcome that it needs to reach.

A good team is results-oriented, focusing on what it is trying to achieve not what it’s currently doing.

Use this checklist to verify that the objectives defined for your project will help you achieve results and won’t hinder your efforts.

  1. Are the defined objectives clear enough?

    Contrary to goals, objectives must be focused and clear. Understandable objectives will drive the team to successful results.

  2. Are the defined objectives SMART?

    Do the objectives comply with the SMART criteria:

    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Achievable
    • Relevant
    • Time constrained
  3. Is the number of objectives right (4-6 range)?

    There is no right number of project objectives but taking into account the fact that objectives should be known and tracked by the team, a low number (having between 4 and 6 objectives is a good compromise) will make it easier for the team to keep focused on the essential. Remember, the more objectives you have, the harder it will be for your team to keep track of them.

  4. Is there a known and clear context?

    The defined objectives must be linked to the overall context. Objectives that do not advance the project (useless objectives) or that are contrary to company strategy (like building a whole new product that competes with one that already exists) should be eliminated or changed. For each objective yourself these questions:

    • Will achieving this objective advance the project?
    • Does this objective tie in to the project and company goals?
    • Does this objective follow the company strategy?
  5. Are the defined objectives known and agreed upon?

    It is important that all stakeholders know and agree to the defined objectives. It is very important for project success that the objectives are known and agreed upon by project sponsors and executives.

  6. Can each defined objective be tied to a deliverable?

    Think of this as a post-SMART check. If you can pinpoint at least one deliverable that helps you attain an objective you are OK. If you can’t ask yourself this: how are we achieving this objective? If it doesn’t matter, you should remove it from the list.

  7. Does every defined objective have quality criteria specified?

    Besides being measurable, each objective should have quality criteria defined, so that both quantitative (are we there yet?) and qualitative (is it the right thing?) parameters can be tracked and accounted for. Getting it right is just as important as getting it done.

The pileup

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
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January was a tough month, with a lot of new projects and initiatives that needed pushing and pulling to get up and running, consuming a huge chunk of my time… and most importantly, my energy.

As I realized that work started consuming more and more time… I chose to suspend things like participating in communities, writing this blog, working on my other various projects, so that I can give as much attention as I can to my family and to my full time job activities.

And now I have a huge list of things that I wanted to write, mostly technical, some less technical.

Throughout January I’ve raised my pomodoro usage and through trial and error I’ve found that a 20 minute pomodoro followed by a 10 minute break is a perfect fit for my work requirements.

I am however pushing the rules a little because I’m using the 10 minute break between pomodoros for low-cost activities, like following-up on delegated tasks, quick feedback sessions and having quick coffee-break chats.

Anyway, here’s to February, a small and hopefully, more productive month.

Ask yourself, do you REALLY need a framework?

There’s a good piece by Mike Mooney on “the framework myth” that I really like. I like to read it every time I start something new.

I also have a quote on a PostIt on my wall:

Keep it simple.
Keep it low-impact.
Keep it clean.
Put the big guns away.


I thought I’d share it with you, go read it: