Beeminder Forum

TaskRatchet Development Updates

So far I’ve had one conversation with @zzq. It was very insightful. I’d like to have a lot more interviews with potential users (hint, hint), or really anyone who uses Beeminder. I need to start reaching out to more people directly to schedule interviews instead of waiting for interviews to come to me. Probably should make a goal for that… :wink:

I’d also really like to switch as quickly as possible to getting feedback from real users instead of potential users, and that means MVP time. I’m thinking I could start out by sending a daily email to a group of alpha users asking them what’s on their plate for the day. They can respond back (or not) with a list of tasks and stakes for each. I’ll then enter those tasks into an AirTable base. I can generate views using the base to see what tasks are upcoming or overdue, and send email reminders to the appropriate users. If a user misses a deadline, I can manually create a charge in Stripe.

This is so ridiculously manual that I have a feeling I won’t be able to resist the urge to automate almost as soon as I start. But I think if I can resist that urge for just a little bit I stand to learn a lot by having such a high level of awareness into how the system is working for those daring enough to join the experiment.

Thankfully, once I do stop resisting, AirTable has a fantastic API, and I think Stripe has a good one too (haven’t used it), so getting the first level of automation up-and-running shouldn’t be that hard.

Beyond that, I’ll let user feedback direct the project.

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And… there’s now a “Join” button on TaskRatchet.com which takes you to a page where you can give me a dollar and (really, truly) join the alpha! :grin:

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Joined! Very exciting!

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What happens now that I’ve joined? I haven’t heard anything

@zedmango I’ll be emailing you once I’m ready to start the alpha. I’m going on a trip in a couple of days, so it’ll need to be after the 20th. Starting out, this will be a very manual process for me, so I want to be able to give it the attention it needs.

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I was also delighted to cough up a dollar to try this out!

(Now I’m fantasizing about some kind of scheme for dynamic pricing for beta apps where you actually see the whole queue of people and initially you pay the $1 to get in line but then … basically there’s a big auction and you make people bid for their spots in the beta. Oh, yeah, I have a domain name that could work for this and everything: biddybee.com)

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I joined as well! So exciting!

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First email of the alpha sent!

@zedmango, @dreev, @openmedi, did the email get past your spam filters? Also, maybe add nathan@taskratchet.com to your contacts…

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:partying_face: It did!

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got it! some questions:

nothing about payment info though - how are you going to charge us?

and can we set deadlines at times other than midnight?

is there any verification involved or is it just self-reported?

how do we check and determine what outstanding tasks we have and what their pledge amounts are?

what are the rules on canceling a goal?

Great!

  1. Payment: That’s why you had to pay for the alpha. Stripe has your payment details, which allows me to create a new charge for you manually.
  2. Non-midnight deadlines: Sure! I’m really not sure how this is going to work, but if you’d like it, go ahead and give me a non-midnight deadline, and I’ll see what I can figure out.
  3. Completion verification: Not by default. If you’d like to try it, let me know what I need from you to verify a task, and I’ll try holding you to it.
  4. List access: I’m planning to include that list in your daily email. If you want an updated list, feel free to email me for it, and I’ll try to get it to you as soon as I can.

If there’s a theme to these answers, it’s that the service is very flexible right now. I don’t know what TaskRatchet needs to be long-term; so if you need it to work differently, just ask, and I’ll try to figure out how to make it work for you, at least temporarily until I’m convinced that’s not the direction the product should go.

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well I’d definitely want non-midnight deadlines and a way to see my current list without having to email you / check my email

Oh, and what about canceling a goal?

For sure! I’ll definitely be aiming to remove myself from the loop as this project progresses. (Long-term that would be a terrible bottleneck!)

Again, re: timezones, just give me a deadline other than midnight and I’ll try to make it work.

Canceling a goal is as easy as emailing me and telling me to cancel it.

Well, I mean, if you can cancel at any time doesn’t that negate the commitment contract aspect? I want something that prevents me from canceling everything I don’t do right before the deadline…

Yeah, that’s a good point. I’m open to the idea of being all hardcore and not allowing people to cancel tasks or call non-legit on charges, but that seems a little too much, too.

In what circumstances should I allow tasks and charges to be canceled?

The first 10% of the time - so if I create a goal due in 5 hours that gives me 30 minutes. If I create a goal due in 2 days that gives me 4.8 hours to cancel.

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Quick update as the first week of the alpha draws to a close (we started on Tuesday, so, not really, but close enough).

The first few days of the alpha were quite overwhelming. Part of that was being tired from returning from a trip to some friends’ wedding, part of that was having absolutely no idea what I was doing with the alpha and being scared I was really going to screw things up for people.

Thankfully, I’ve gotten some good sleep, and things are feeling better now. :sweat_smile:

We have five registered alpha users, and they continue to trickle in. I haven’t done any marketing beyond letting people know who’d already expressed interest in the project that the alpha is open. I’m going to leave it that way for a while. (Are you interested in the project but haven’t joined yet? You can do so here!)

I wasted a whole day trying to automate things right away. It’s so tempting to run to code. I’ve found that the things I was trying to automate I can get more than close enough with some clever uses of AirTable’s UI. (By the way, if you’re not familiar with AirTable, you owe it to yourself to go try it out. It is bonkers how powerful that thing is if you’re wanting to do casual database or workflow kinds of stuff.)

I’m scheduling morning emails using Gmail. I was surprised to discover it’s built right in, in the submenu hidden by the split send button in the compose window. Nice!

Thanks, everyone, who’s already joined the alpha! I’m learning so much already, I can’t wait to continue building the service with you guys. :smile:

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Been getting into the groove of things running the alpha manually. It’s been pretty fun. I personally enjoy the interactions I have with the users, celebrating their small wins throughout the day.

I’ve also been experimenting with including some productivity tidbit in the daily summary emails. Hopefully that will encourage people to open the emails and be some additional value for them, too.

Been playing around with some design directions. First go at a logo, meh:

Result of some playing around with how the landing page could look in the future:

Also been trying to think about how to automate things going forward. Thought about using Glitch. Also considering Google Cloud Functions. Zapier could probably do most everything I need right now, but if the product becomes successful it would be very expensive to keep running that way, so I’m not sure I want to invest the effort to go in that direction.

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I love the logo!

Why do you need to use another service to automate? I thought that was what the backend was for.