It seems that my list of projects to do is still growing, but I thought it would be a good idea to post the interview transcript from Steven Lubetkin's podcast about JetBrains' productivity tool for people who love to get lots of info and want to manage it better, Omea Pro.
So without further ado,
Tackling the information overload in computer technology has been a challenge for software developers for a number of years. Today on the CompuSchmooze Podcast we’ll talk to someone from a company that may have a solution. This is Steven Lubetkin, welcome to the CompuSchmooze Podcast.
Keeping track of the information on your computer is probably one of the biggest challenges that faces computer users today. We store information in a calendar program, in our email program, and of course many of us use Microsoft Outlook for both of those functions. We also store files in folder hierarchies, RSS feeds and newsgroup posts in our aggregators, webpage booksmarks in our browsers, and instant message conversations in our IM software. There are a number of software solutions on the market that attempt to integrate some of these disparate sources of information, but it’s been a long time since we’ve seen one with the promise of the newest entry in this field.
A program called Omea which comes from JetBrains, a software productivity company, they began by developing software for programmers to streamline the development process. They are located in Prague, in the Czech Republic, and our guest today on the CompuSchmooze Podcast is David Booth. David is the Executive Marketing Manager for JetBrains’ Omea product line, and he’ll talk to us today a little bit about the Omea Information Environment which integrates all of your email, your contacts, your tasks, your files, as well as newsfeeds, webpage bookmarks, and also usenet newsgroups into a single integrated environment where you can search and organize more efficiently. David was educated at the University of Waterloo and also the Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada. He’s worked in the international sphere for the last four years, first in Amsterdam for Sitraka Software, then in South Korea, and now he makes his home in Prague, in the Czech Republic where JetBrains is headquartered. He is highly interested in social networking software, information organizers, search technology, and the future of mobile technology, and he spoke to us over the Skype Internet Telephony Service.
Tell me a little bit about JetBrains and take me through to the process that got you to where we are now, launching an official release of version two.
JetBrains is focused on tools that help people improve their productivity when they are dealing with a lot of information. So the programming tools had intelligent organizers and a lot of shortcuts that help developers to work faster. The Omea project started in the middle of 2003. Our CEO, Sergey Dmitriev, was taking a hard look at information overload because a lot of people were complaining about it at the time, and still are.
See, people have problems finding the information that we really need, because there is just so much available all the time. By organizing, creating shortcuts, and adding intelligent features to their Java IDE, IntelliJ IDEA, JetBrains saved developers a lot of time searching for information, bugs, or code problems. So we decided to take some of these ideas, and open them up to a wider, less-technical audience: to people who are overloaded with information, who are receiving too much information, or just can’t manage all the information that they WANT to have, and WANT to access, as effectively as they would like to do it. We created a tool, Omea Pro, that brings all the information sources together that people use on a regular basis. Like their emails, their contacts, their files, documents, transcripts, spreadsheets, adobe pdfs, RSS feeds, tasks, and things like that. As well as their conversations on ICQ or Miranda, newsgroups… basically a large variety of resources, can all be pulled together, and found quickly with Omea’s Desktop Search functionality, and with Omea’s Organizing features, people can keep themselves organized, permanently.
JetBrains wanted to create a tool that made it easy to organize your information, and they did it in a way that other tools really didn’t, because most other tools only succeed in segregating your information. Emails are all kept in Outlook, instant messages conversations are stored in ICQ or Miranda’s history, your files are organized in a folder hierarchy, and the team thought, well, it’s just so much easier to bring it all together, put it into one environment, so that way you don’t really need to use a variety of other programs. You’ve got everything from your emails to your webpage bookmarks in the same place. And, that’s the idea behind Omea.
Is there a story behind the name? How did it get the name?
It was originally an abbreviation of “Omniamea”, which comes from Latin, meaning “All my things”. I’ve been told that it’s part of a proverb that says, “Omniamea mecum porto”, which loosely translated means, “I carry all my things with me”. And that’s where we got “Omea”
From the user’s standpoint, what are some of the advantages of the product? Obviously bringing everything together, it sounds good, but how would a normal everday user benefit from Omea?
I guess one of the worst case scenarios is when you know you have information, somewhere on your computer, but you just can’t find it. Maybe you had some research that you just saw once, saved it for later, and now you need that information, because would be perfect for the project you're working on right now. But you don’t remember where it was. You're thinking, "Was it in a conversation that I had with someone? Did I write it in an email? Was it in a file? Was it an attachment to something?" Sometimes you don’t really know, especially after 2-3 months, and you’re looking back for it now. Or if you’re looking for info about your client work that you’ve been doing. So, in Omea, you can just type a keyword and search, like a desktop search, and find any information in your entire computer that relates to those keywords. So if you want to have a temporary productivity boost, and you don’t want to spend 10 minutes looking for something, you just want to find it now, that’s where Omea’s search functionality comes in.
Now, if you want to have a permanent productivity boost, you can set it up so that Omea keep all your resources organized for you, the way you tell it to, given a system of rules. So you teach Omea what to look for, how to organize it, and then as soon as information arrives, that relates to your specific projects, or to a client that you work with, or to certain keywords, like the industry buzzwords that you’re following, or your competitors’ products, then Omea picks them up, organizes them into a nice little category, and lets you know "hey you’ve got some new information, and it’s about “this”".
One of the things that impresses me the most is the integration of things like usenet newsgroups, and RSS feeds from the various weblogs and podcasts. Talk a little bit about how you can use the Rules to manage those and to filter those into effective categories.
One of the ways is using keywords, so basically you could tell omea, “I’m looking for anything that mentions my competitors’ product”. You can tell Omea to search for the name of that product and have it filter anything, from a podcast, to a competitors website, so anytime the website changes, you get notified of it, every time the competitor sends out an RSS feed, or someone in the blogosphere mentions your competitor’s product, it would immediately go into your category. It’s the same with emails, anytime that you’ve written about that product, or your competitor with your colleague, or a user of the product, so, as soon as you need something that relates to that competitor’s product, it’s all right the for you, in one place, and you don’t need to look in all you different programs for it.
One of the things that I notice Omea does that is a weakness or shortcoming of MS Outlook, is the ability to link across the resources. You can link a posting to an RSS feed, or an email or a contact, you can link all of those within an Outlook-based task so that you have them all in one place is a task environment as well.
And from there you could send the task to other users of Omea, so they have all the resources and the links together as well.
That could be incredibly efficient as a way of managing information
Especially if you’re managing it as part of a team
Sure, in different locations as well. What about future enhancements David? One of the things that users will discover isn’t there pretty early on is a resource window for a calendar function. You pretty much cover everything else in Outlook, but not the calendar.
That’s the next thing that we’re working on.
Any timeline for that?
We haven’t really released a public timeline for that. We’ve been focused on the 2.0 release and as soon as we’re finished with this, we’re going to listen to our audience some more, check out their feedback, and then get right into the calendar.
Some of the other resources that you are already indexing and tracking are outside of the Outlook Environment, you’re tracking instant messaging,
With ICQ and Miranda
Are there any plans to expand that to other instant messaging environments?
Not in the immediate future, we’re focusing on things like the calendar first, and we’ll be looking at other IMs, depending on which companies are most open to the extra 3rd party functionality for their software, and which IMs our users like the best.
Alright! Thanks a lot!
Thanks for the call.
I’d like to thank David Booth from JetBrains for joining us on the CompuSchmooze Podcast today, to talk about Omea. If you have questions, or are interested in Omea the product, you can go to the Jetbrains website, and download a free 30 day trial, which integrates with Microsoft Outlook, and all the other information-related programs on your PC, and improve your efficiency rather drastically by allowing you to integrate information from disparate sources. If you have comments or questions about the CompuSchmooze Podcast, you can direct them to me at Steve@lubetkin.net. We’d also like to thank the Garage Band of the Week, Momma’s Rug, for the use of their instrumental tune “Wasted” as our theme music for this podcast. For everyone here at CompuSchmooze, this is Steve Lubetkin, thank you for listening, and we’ll see you on the net.
Well, after trying out this transcript, i've had the chance to really analyze exactly what I said, and I how i said it. I think something like this is going to become a regular item on my to do list, to help with future interviews!
Good luck getting things done!