10 lists to inspire you in 2009

23 December 2008


I was talking to one of our users yesterday and he was complaining that we hadn’t updated our blog (with the exception of Mr Moore’s posts he said he quite missed our stories).

We’ve been so busy road-testing the site we haven’t had a chance to finalise our tagline competition so the wine is still on my desk – quite a testament to our self discipline in these trying times. Reviews from our first batch of users back inside Snagsta have been fairly promising. Thanks to those of you who have sent us feedback.

The original plan was to give all our readers a Mont Blanc pen for Christmas but out of respect to all the bankers that have lost their jobs we thought something humble would be more appropriate.

Instead we thought we’d share some of our favourite lists with you.

  1. Things to do in the Bay Area / Northern California (Michael Kalmar)
  2. No fail date places in London (Rebeccah Rumph)
  3. 5 places so good I almost don’t want to tell you about them (Steve Catling)
  4. Highly recommended podcasts (Burak Alpar)
  5. Clues you’re getting old (Marie Foster)
  6. Picture books every child should be given (Dianne Hofmeyr)
    This user, who I might be related to, has made some great lists – check out the ones on travel. Thanks mom 🙂
  7. When insults had class (Richard Pickering)
  8. Things to do in and around Cape Town (Nick Pickard)
  9. The best places to kiss in Paris (Vanessa Vettier)

    And finishing off with something on the racier side…

  10. Food to get their knickers off (Neil Foreman)

Have a great Christmas!


How important is a vote anyway?

11 November 2008


A New Leader

A New Leader

As you may have noticed, the subject of voting has been in the news spotlight recently – yep, that’s right, it was election time in New Zealand. Plus, weren’t they doing something in the U.S. too last week?


No, of course, it was a massive deal in the U.S., but here in the Snagsta Thailand office, we decided not to endorse either candidate, partly because we try to remain suitably impartial, but mostly because we don’t have any eligible voters on staff.


Personally, I like to support the underdog, but this was tricky, because who I thought was the underdog, turned out to be the favourite and who I thought was the favourite suddenly declared himself the underdog.


Funnily enough though, the subject of voting has been in the spotlight here at Snagsta HQ, thanks to the programming team adding in some new functionality allowing users to vote on a list.


We had an interesting debate on the suitability of a voting system for us, seeing as one of our core functions is to provide recommendations based on a user’s preferences, rather than other people’s preferences. However, the over-riding factor was the probability that many of our users will not necessarily be members, so of course if we can give them a way of knowing which lists are good and which aren’t, this helps them.


To be honest, I was more concerned about how many negative votes my lists will get, but hopefully I can convince the programmers to secretly build an admin function that allows me to cast multiple votes at one time. Democracy, with a dash of corruption. It’s the Thai way.


Before I close with a list (that you will not be able to vote on!), I’d just like to remind everyone to get their entries in for the tagline competition. Some of you are amazingly creative, and some of you…not so much.


Just kidding, please do submit your own entry soon.


Finally, here is a list of my favourite online memories of the 2008 U.S. election:


The ordinary people – funny Arab lady, Joe the Plumber


The music – The Obama Girl, American Boy, Will.I.Am


The SNL skits – The Couric Interview, The VP Debate, The Debate


The Funny or Die collection – Ron Howard, Natalie Portman

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Tagline contest. Win a bottle of wine!

30 October 2008


In the spirit of online collaboration we’re kicking off a competition to find the best Snagsta tagline. The most original, funny, best and worst taglines will all win a bottle of wine. Some of you may even be lucky enough to have it hand-delivered by a founder [depending on your postcode and vital statistics]. This is not a joke, you could win! Impossible is nothing.

So, what makes a great tagline?

Skype: Take a Deep Breath.
Orange: The Future’s Bright, the Future’s Orange.
Apple: Think different.
Amex: Don’t leave home without it.
Smith Barney: We make money the old-fashioned way – we earn it.
DeBeers: A diamond is forever.
Audi: Vorsprung durch technik.
Heinz: Beanz meanz Heinz.
Carlsberg: Probably the best beer in the world [even though we all know it’s crap]

Some topical ones:

AIG: The strength to be there.  [I wonder how their customers feel at the moment?]
Lehmans: Where Vision Gets Built.  [And, apparently, destroyed]

And our favourite:

Heineken’s: Refreshes the parts other beers can’t reach.
The inspiration for our current tagline:
Snagsta. Helps you find the things Google can’t.

Love it or hate it [incidentally marmite’s tagline] you have to admit, it’s actually true. Consider searching for restaurants in London on Google… 1.5 million results later, have you really ‘found’ any? But ask a friend for a list of their 5 favourite restaurants in London and I’ll bet you’d have one picked out in no time.

Of course Google might find a reason to hate it. Hence the competition.

So what is Snagsta? Snagsta is a recommendation site that uses lists of your favourites to help you find things you’ll like. The one-phrase benefit of Snagsta is: Find remarkable things you can trust.We need your help making that sentiment sexier and turning it into a tagline.

To get your juices flowing here are some possibilities:

Snagsta. Helps you find the things Google can’t.
Snagsta. Find things search engines can’t.
Snagsta. Find things you’ll like.
Snagsta. Take the lottery out of discovery.
Snagsta. Hidden little gems.
Snagsta. Search, refined.
Snagsta. The internet distilled by your friends.
Snagsta. Needles without the haystack.
Snagsta. List. Share. Discover.
Snagsta. List. Connect. Discover.
Snagsta. Finders keepers.
Snagsta. Better than the rest.
Snagsta. Where people in the know go.

And finally …

Snagsta. Probably the best site on the web.

Any gems in there?  Or do they all taste like Carlsberg?
Let us know and submit your suggestion in the comments.

Just do it!

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Sunning ourselves at FOWA

30 October 2008


Earlier this month, we paid a 2-day visit to FOWA (The Future of Web Apps exhibition and conference) in East London.

We were in the Sun Lounge as guests of the magnanimous Stewart Townsend (the man of a thousand shirts) but a stone’s throw from a particularly excellent surf machine (Phil managed to stay on it well over a minute, me, slightly less).

Stewart invited us take part as we recently signed up to Sun’s excellent Startup Essentials programme.

Thanks to him we got to know Duncan from hosting company EveryCity, Glenn and Angela Shoosmith (husband and wife) from BookingBug (who won one of Mike Butcher’s several TechCrunch Pitch events) and Charlie and Sophie Cox (brother and sister) who have just set up Worldeka. There were also a couple of other people you might have heard of… the young lad in the photo with the halo is Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. I saw him speak and was impressed with his sincerity but a little disappointed that he skirted some key issues and didn’t stick around for any questions.

The presentations were good and there were always some interesting folks wondering into the Sun Lounge. Learned a few things about Facebook Connect, Microformats and OAuth too so all in all it was a good couple of days. Thanks Stewart, we owe you one.

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A New Dawn

17 October 2008
A new dawn for Snagsta

This is one of the more difficult posts I’ve had to write but we thought it was time to make an announcement about the lack of progress with Snagsta. As a result of some problems with the site, we’ve changed tack and appointed a new development team to get us to public beta. Although it was a difficult decision to make, we’re confident it was the right one and are excited about how things are now moving ahead.

We have a big team coding away and the initial feedback we’ve had from them so far has been positive. As I type, Snagsta’s intrepid explorer Phil “The Hof” Hofmeyr is on his merry way to spend some time with the new development team in Asia. If all goes to plan, by the time he gets back to London we will have a new version of Snagsta to play with.

Thanks to all of you who have tested the site over the past couple of months. Your feedback has been great and we’ve been able to incorporate many of your ideas in to our plans for our next build. We look forward to sharing the new site with you all very soon. 

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Tell us what you think… honestly

4 October 2008

For those of you who have visited the private beta in the last few weeks, you may have noticed the new feedback functionality we added in the last update. Since we are also using it for bug reporting, it’s a good thing it has turned out to be one of the least buggy features in the beta.

Sadly Snagsta can’t really take any credit for this, because it is a copy and paste job from Kampyle although we can strongly recommend it for any other new sites out there that need a quick feedback feature.

They do have some hideous design options, but for the most part set up was breeze, and we even managed to inject some of our usual bad “Snagsta” humour into the compliments section.

As always with feedback, what you get back from users can sometimes be a bit of a confusing mix. So far we’ve had a bunch of bug reports, a couple of nice compliments, one submission that simply said “What??” and of course some spam.

What I find interesting though are the different attitudes that come through, with some people obviously just trying to be helpful (even if they do leave some very cryptic messages), others being helpful but also managing to somehow sound so condescending (probably unintentionally) and yet others who are apologetic as if it is their fault that they couldn’t make something work.

So, if you find yourself with some time on your hands, please feel free to leave us some feedback. We would love to hear from you.

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We all love Paris… but which one?

26 September 2008

I took my daughter to school for the first time this week. I had been given clear instructions to be there at least 10 minutes early before the gates opened at 9. This was understandable, given my tradition of waiting until things are in full swing before I arrive (some people call this being late). Fine for a party, not so fine for school. So you can imagine how pleased I am with myself when I arrive at 8:45. And I am not even sweating because I haven’t rushed. I make small-talk with the other parents. My daughter chases their children. We take a little photo in front of the school to celebrate the moment. I then put on her ‘smoke’ (she can’t say ‘smock’). I even put it on the right way around. At 9 am, right on schedule, the gate opens and we neatly flock into the school. As I walk in a smiling lady introduces herself as Melissa the head teacher. I proudly introduce myself as dad and tell her how exciting this is. She kindly absorbs my excitement and tells me I am at the wrong school. You see there are two schools called Sunshine House in the area.

I tell you this story to introduce an interesting problem with software called Entity Resolution. Amongst other things, it deals with resolving identical names. When you talk about Paris do you mean Paris France, Paris Texas or indeed, Paris Hilton?  Or what if there are two Paris Hiltons (now there’s a thought…)? My good friend Jane Silber (from Ubuntu fame) pointed it out to me last year when we were first thinking about Snagsta but it’s something we have only started grappling with recently. The problem is addressed in a variety of ways. Geotagging adds metadata tags that has a physical location in it. Some software looks at the context: the associated links or words in the sentence can often provide the answer. We’re looking forward to seeing how its going to work on Snagsta.

Note: the fact that whether I am talking about Paris France or Texas I am generally still thinking about Paris Hilton is a problem that software has not yet managed to solve… and probably the subject of a completely different type of blog post 😉

Time to sign off, it’s Friday afternoon, and just like at school, Alex has started ringing the bell and is shouting: “Boys & girls, tidy up time! It’s tidy up time!”

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photocredit: my unusually talented (yet humble) friend Meriem Aissaoui