October 2011

iPhone 4S Pranks with Siri

by Joey deVilla on October 13, 2011

Comic - Guy 1: "I just bought the new iPhone 4S. Check it out...SIRI..." Guy 2: "...email folder titled PORNOGRAPHY to Mom." Siri: "Email sent. Anything else?" Guy 2: "Google search TOP 10 BESTIALITY SEX TOURS, forward results to BOSS then reset iPhone to default settings; confirm."

Comic by Jason Pultz. Click to see it at full size.

This article also appears in The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century.

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Shopify’s Ruby Talks at Confoo

by Joey deVilla on October 12, 2011

ConFoo.ca / Web Techno ConferenceIt may seem a bit early to talk about the ConFoo conference, the Montreal-based “Web Techno Conference” taking place from February 29th through March 2nd, 2012, but time flies in our line of work, so I might as well blog about it now.

Yann Larrivee, one of the bright lights in Montreal’s very active open source developer community and one of the people behind ConFoo, asked me if I would represent both Shopify and its mainstay programming language, Ruby, by submitting a couple of presentation proposals. I wrote up two, and both got accepted!

Ruby as She is Spoke

Cover of "English as She is Spoke"

The first is Ruby as She is Spoke. This session gets its title from the unintentional comedy classic English as She is Spoke, a book purported to have been written by a Portuguese author who spoke no English. He is said to have written it by translating a Portuguese-to-French phrasebook using an English-French dictionary. Hilarity ensued.

We might laugh at the approach used to write English as She is Spoke, but it’s not all that different from the approaches we use when we learn new languages, whether human or computer. We often bring constructs, idioms and turns of phrase that don’t apply to other languages; we also ignore the features of the languages we’re learning (especially if they don’t appear in our native languages) as well as the accepted (and often tacit) standards of those languages’ speakers.

Ruby as She is Spoke is all about learning to speak Ruby like a native. I’ll cover speaking Ruby in a way that’s accepted by the Ruby community at large, tried-and-tested by some of the most prolific and productive Ruby developers (including those at Shopify) and that makes best use of the many features in the language.

As always, this session will be delivered in my legendary style. You will not be bored, and you just might learn something!

Mo’ Money, Less Problems with ActiveMerchant

Illustration of a cash register

The second is Mo’ Money, Less Problems with ActiveMerchant. Yes, I know that the grammatically correct phrase is “Mo’ Money, Fewer Problems”, but to a native English speaker steeped in pop culture vernacular, “Mo’ Money, Less Problems” just sounds better.

This one’s about ActiveMerchant, the de facto Ruby standard for handling payments and a Shopify creation. So while I didn’t write it, I’ve got direct access to the people who did, and who also maintain it and use it to pay the rent (as you may have guessed, we use ActiveMerchant inside Shopify). This session’s going to be driven by examples aplenty, from the payment equivalent of “Hello World” to a full Rails-based shopping cart. I’ll also talk about the payment processing industry, its standards and what to look out for – you can’t be too careful when handling money.

Once again, this session will be delivered with my notorious presentation-fu. You’ll laugh and learn how to get rich!

Come to ConFoo!

Photo of a large ConFoo presentation room

As I said earlier, ConFoo takes place in Montreal from Wednesday, February 29th through Friday, March 2nd, 2012. The venue is the Hilton Bonaventure Hotel, right above Place Bonaventure, and next door to the Queen Elizabeth and the train station, a stone’s throw from a lot of the fun stuff in Montreal. I recommend “padding” your trip by attending the conference and staying for the weekend; even during the coldest time of the year, Montreal is lots of fun!

ConFoo’s 160 sessions cover a wide range of topics:

  • Accessibility
  • Cloud computing
  • CMS
  • Data persistence
  • Dev tools
  • Fron end
  • Java
  • JavaScript
  • Mobile
  • .NET
  • PHP
  • Project management / Agile
  • Python
  • Ruby
  • Scaling / Performance
  • Security
  • Social networking
  • Startups
  • System administration
  • Testing / QA
  • Web services

I’ve been to ConFoo before and can say that the speakers and crowd are great, and that it’s both a fun and informative event. Registration is open; until January 13, 2012, you can save 25% and get in for the CAD$600 early bird fee. After that, if you’d rather not do the math, it’s CAD$800.

This article also appears in the Shopify Technology Blog.


Featured Shopify App: Get Satisfaction

by Joey deVilla on October 11, 2011

Selling in the “Age of the Customer”

Logos: Get Satisfaction, WordPress, Facebook, Google, Yahoo!, Bing and Twitter

“The customer is always right,” the old saying goes, and it’s never been more true than now. In a world where everyone is a potential publisher, broadcaster and reviewer and where word-of-mouth is now longer a neighbourhood phenomenon but a global one, the key to winning over customers is to know and engage them.

Cover of the Forrester Report "Competitive Strategy in the Age of the Customer"A recent report by Forrester Research titled Competitive Strategy in the Age of the Customer (and shared by the people at Get Satisfaction) has this summary of today’s customers:

Empowered customers are disrupting every industry; competitive barriers like manufacturing strength, distribution power, and information mastery can’t save you. In this age of the customer, the only sustainable competitive advantage is knowledge of and engagement with customers.

…Those that master the customer data flow and improve frontline customer staff will have the edge.

Get Satisfaction are in the business of helping businesses gain that edge, by helping them get to know and engage their customers. They also have a Shopify app to help you and your shop harness the power of community to answer questions and provide support, build loyalty and increase sales. We asked them a few questions about their app and what it can do for you.

What does your app do?

Get Satisfaction LogoGet Satisfaction is a social media feedback tool trusted by over 50,000 companies to engage with informative, productive and engaging conversations with their customers. The Get Satisfaction app lets Shopify shopowners build their own Get Satisfaction community to get scalable customer support and product-specific content on each product page to help pre-sell visitors and get valuable feedback.

What are the key features of your app?

The Get Satisfaction app provides these features to your Shopify shop:

  • Infinitely scalable community support
  • A social knowledgebase/FAQ for your Shopify store and its products
  • Related community topics on each product page
  • Wide or narrow product page widgets, which fit a variety of templates
  • A boosted SEO footprint with highly indexable content

Why should shopowners use your app?

Community content and conversations aid customers in evaluating and buying products from your shop. The Get Satisfaction app gives you access to Get Satisfaction’s set of tools for communicating with your customers and building a community around your shop. The conversations enabled by Get Satisfaction aren’t just chatter; they create outcomes: questions answered, problems solved, and great outcomes for both your shop and your customers.

Screenshot of a Get Satisfaction community page

The Get Satisfaction community created around your shop can grow, and as it does, the knowledge about your shop and the products you sell within it also grows. Popular discussion topics become FAQs, great ideas get promoted up and problems affecting many get addressed in one easy-to-find, search-indexed place.

Tell us a little about yourself.

Get Satisfaction was founded in 2007 and is based in San Francisco. We power the world’s best brands to solve problems, give a voice to champions, bring out the best ideas and drive better business.

Where can I find out more about the Get Satisfaction app?

The Get Satisfaction app icon sitting on a shelf in the Shopify App Store

You can find out more about the Get Satisfaction app on its page in the Shopify App Store.

Screenshots of the Get Satisfaction main page and of the Get Satisfaction blog "Social Studies"

You can also find out more about Get Satisfaction on their site, as well as on their very informative blog, aptly titled Social Studies.

This article also appears in the Shopify Blog.


The Cover of Next Week’s New Yorker

by Joey deVilla on October 7, 2011

Cover of the New Yorker, October 17, 2011, featuring an illustration of Steve Jobs at the Pearly Gates, with St. Peter processing him on an iPad

This article also appears in The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century.

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We’ve All Been Here

by Joey deVilla on October 7, 2011

Programmer meme: "It's working / but I have no idea why"

The IDE in the picture reminds me: I should fire up Visual Studio, just for kicks.


I’ll Admit It, I Laughed

by Joey deVilla on October 7, 2011

Photo of Steve Wozniak, with the caption "No one will ever need more that 640K of RAM. -- Steve Jobs"

This article also appears in The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century.


Featured Shopify App: Want Button

by Joey deVilla on October 7, 2011

Image of a storefront

Have you been to Shopify’s App Store lately? It’s full of useful apps that extend the capability of your shop with all sorts of features to help boost sales, manage your business and better serve your customers. If you haven’t been there yet, point your browser at apps.shopify.com and see if there’s an app that suits your needs.

One of the apps available in the App Store is Want Button, created by Want, which lets your customers create “wish lists” and find out what other people…want. We talked with Want about their app and asked them some questions; we’ve shared their answers.

What does your app do?

Want logo

Simply put, the Want Button app allows storeowners to add wishlist functionality and see who has an interest in buying their products.

What are the key features of your app?

Want screenshot

The Want Button app has these key features:

Visibility. Users follow each other on Want based on shared taste in products. When someone adds one of your products to their Collection it’s broadcasted to the activity feeds of like-minded individuals.

Facebook. Want provides built-in access to the new Facebook automated sharing, giving every storeowner the chance for exposure on their shopper’s Timelines and Tickers.

Insight. Learn what other products and brands your shoppers have an interest in. This can help you select new inventory, shape design decisions, and create more appealing marketing efforts. Also find out visitor demographics and product sentiment.

Converse. Learn the context of why these individuals have not yet purchased – too expensive, sold out, no size available, different color choice, etc. Act on these contexts with meaningful communication. Offer discounts, sale alerts, restock notices, or any other creative and authentic propositions.

Why should shopowners use your app?

Unfortunately, Shopify doesn’t offer any kind of built in save for later or wishlist, which is such a marquee feature in the online retail world.  Any Shopify storeowner can now add this signature shopping characteristic in one-click and in the process, delight their visitors and keep the chances of a purchase alive.

Tell us a little about yourself.

Photo of GM Headquarters in Detroit

We were established in Detroit, MI. You’ll see us paying homage to the city and recognizing its culture subtly throughout the Want site.

We’re a small but dedicated team of programmers, designers, and thinkers who at the end of the day are trying to make sense of the emotional connection people have with objects.

We like to be very design-oriented in all aspects of the product from both an aesthetic and “how it works” standpoint. We love working with various designers from all over the globe.

A big shout out to Matthew Skiles for the logo/interface and Philipp Datz for the icons!

Where did you get the idea for your app?

Shopify has far and away the highest quality storefronts and product selections out of any ecommerce platform. Want is product impartial for the most part, but we definitely like to associate with unique, high-aesthetic items and storeowners who are passionate about what they sell.

Where can I find out more about Want?

Want Button app icon on the App Store shelf

You can find out more about the Want Button app in the Shopify App Store.

You can also find Want online in these places:

This article also appears in the Shopify Blog.