Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Show HN: Monica, an open-source CRM to manage friends and family (monicahq.com)
1097 points by robinhood on June 6, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 568 comments

Founder here. Here to answer any questions you might have. The site is not perfect, it's not mobile optimized, there are probably bugs, there is a gazillion features missing, no APIs but it's a labour of love, open-source and I hope it will help people other than me. I want to grow this product but I need to know what you need, people. Edit: sorry for the bugs I see on my server popping here and there. Didnt expect that much users and traffic.

Disclaimer: I run my own CRM company, so you can either view this comment as genuine praise/advice, or an attempt to subvert a competitor (but I promise it's the former).

First off, this looks awesome. I've heard people complain many times about how they just want a personal CRM for non-business purposes. On the one hand I love the idea because having such a specific use case allows you to make a very simple UI that does exactly what the user needs. On the other hand, I never personally chose to go after it because getting individual consumers to pay for stuff seems hard.

So I wish you the best of luck, and I hope you stick with it. The "Why Monica?" section of your website sounds like it was written specifically for me, and I'm definitely going to try it out because of that copy.

My main piece of advice: be skeptical of most product suggestions. As someone who has been building a simple CRM for the past ~8 years, I can tell you that everyone wants something different, and if you react to every suggestion you get, your product will end up losing the awesome focus it has right now. That doesn't mean you should ignore feedback, it just means you should make sure the feedback is coming from your actual target audience and not some random person who's looking for Monica to be something it isn't. I fell for that too many times in the early days.

My email is in my profile if you ever want to talk shop.

Thanks a lot for the advice. I've been product manager for most of my career so I totally understand what you mean. I will definitely be careful in where I want Monica to go, and definitely I'll reach out to you on your email (but not today, I just received way too much feedback and emails thanks to HN today :-D

... Did you add him to your Monica?

BTW is there a better way to say that?

Not yet :-D

"You've been Monica-ed"

Somehow that reminds me of Bill Clinton...

"Monica says hi!"

Yeah, I had Monica set that up for me.

Sign up with facebook is not working for me. Perhaps because I have two factor on.

Also, consider adding an import feature from gmail, vCard, etc

Finally, why include male/female binary as the only required field besides name. Seems a little odd

Damn it, I broke it. I'll fix it today, or remove it entirely, I still don't know about it. I like the idea of being able to quickly log in, but it's yet another feature to maintain, so...

My personal recommendation is to drop third-party logins and allow users to sign-up via usernames (without emails). That means you need to deal with "lost password with no way to recover" situations and spam but it's still better than third parties controlling the most important aspect of your application.

PLEASE PLEASE have a non-FB option.

I got added by someone else to a Facebook group that eventually went on a troll raid. I rarely go on Facebook and didn't even participate in any troll raids. Just from being in the group, my account was disabled. I have been locked out of my apps for three weeks and Facebook hasn't answered any appeal I sent them.

I actively avoid sites that offer only FB logins.

I've deleted my FB and have no desire to recover it. Any service that's FB only can count me out.

(yeah, I can create a dummy account for that purpose alone, but I rather not bother)

Exactly. Excellent point. Moreover, you can't import any of your Facebook contacts anyway, so it's pretty pointless, and I hate relying on third parties.

FB integration, though, might be nice for initial import of friend data that's already there.

You can't import ANY data from your friends from Facebook. Facebook doesn't allow to.

That's true, but you can see if any of your FB friends are also using the same service! 'Importing' isn't ok, but verifying via API is ok.[0]

[0]: https://developers.facebook.com/docs/graph-api/common-scenar...

Damn. That's not surprising, but it is disappointing.


This has been the case for many years.

Oh, wow, walled garden indeed

I'm a fan of FB login. In practice it's pretty trivial to maintain once it's set up, I don't recall ever having to do any updates to an FB login system once set up.

It's nice that I don't have to create yet-another-password for a new app as well. I use a password manager so it's not a big deal for me, but for other users it could be so they may just use a shared password and having FB login would be a way to have them not do that.

Counterpoint since I only see anti-FB replies below: I absolutely love seeing OAuth login. I don't have to create yet another password, or worry about whether your site has reasonable password security. Even when I choose to create a login instead, just seeing it gives me some confidence that you're competent enough to set it up, and probably gave some thought to the security trade-offs surrounding login in general.

Have you tried using a password manager? There's no need to worry about a site having reasonable password security when every site has its own unique 15-20 character password that you don't need to know.

You don't have to remove it indefinitely, just come back with something that works with more networks, like google, github, gitlab, yahoo etc., something you have to maintain only the integration instead of the logic.

I have mainly python experience with python-social-auth, but I see PHP has a few pretty good social auth libraries, to name one, I came across HybridAuth[1].

[1] https://github.com/hybridauth/hybridauth

Please, please remove it. I actively avoid sites with fb logins, as it appears others in this thread do as well. Your idea can stand on its own without that sort of crutch.

Why? Just don't log in with it if you don't like it, why does it specifically have to be removed?

Wherever you see the "login with facebook" button, you have FB tracking you. This is why lots of people avoid sites that have this button. It adds very little and puts a lot of people off. Why keep it around on an OSS project if it's going to do nothing of real value and will put off both users of the CRM and people who would like to host a CRM but don't want the FB affiliation?

I get that you might like it, that's fine, but it's not serving any good purpose here. Google login would be more widespread if you must have a 3rd party button. Yes, Google track as well and yes, that's also going to put people off, but if you feel the need to have one at all, get a more useful one. Or better yet, remove them all, have local user registration and put a hook in place for developers to plugin other buttons using different contrib repos. Then you can have both without polluting the core project with 3rd party deps.

If you're concerned about tracking then are you using an ad blocker? Then the FB integration has no affect on you.

not working for me either. made an issue (#39) on the repo.

I disabled Facebook login/signup entirely for now, in order to not frustrate users.

This seems super handy. I am kinda interested in seeing if I can get it to run on Sandstorm.io. Then I don't have to put a lot of effort into managing hosting for it, but it seems like it'd be handy and I'd probably use it if I could host it that way. And if you want to let people use your open source thing without having to manage it as a service, there's some nice perks: https://sandstorm.io/developer

Wow, I'm now a fan of Sandstorm!

Have a look at cloudron.io as well

I wouldn't mind being able to import a file from my Google Contacts. I've been using that as my friends-and-family CRM for over a decade now.

Also, this may sound stupid, but how do you delete a contact?

+1 for importing Google Contacts, or any standard contact format I can import. Also just noticed no deletion...

as someone who built a similar product (but for networking), i will reveal a very hard-earned lesson about CRMs that don't target sales & marketing: no one cares.

everyone will tell you what a great idea it is, and how useful it could be, but no one wants to do any work to that end. it just doesn't solve a real pain for enough people to build a business around (given the product you present on the home page).

however, if you're serious about this space, you will automate the crap out of data collection and make the product a super-passive intelligent assistant (for mobile). make users seem more kind and thoughtful than they otherwise are with this app, and people might just pay for it. there's a potentially big privacy hurdle but i found most people to be surprisingly unconcerned about that if you provide tangible value.

Well, who said robinhood wants to build a business around it? For what it's worth, I care about the topic, but I would never want to use a hosted service for something like that. So his decision to build an open source app is the only way to do it.

But as I am using my own Nextcloud and XMPP Server I would like to see a simpler setup/update procedure.

you might be right. the few comments i read by robinhood seemed to indicate a desire to make it the core of a SaaS business but maybe not.

that this was designed with self-hosting in mind is a nice nod to privacy though.

Looks like you're calculating the birth date field's min-date as (today - 50 years)? Which means I can't add a persons birthday if they were born before 1967.

Edit: Looks like this is already known: https://github.com/monicahq/monica/issues/16

One note, in location the defaults are "Province" and "Postal code" with country at US by default. I haven't tried but if you have any kind of data validation for those inputs it may annoy some of your US users.

I sometimes stumble on some site that only allow five numbers for zip codes and not the six alphanumeric characters we use for postal codes.

I would change "Postal code" to "ZIP" and "Province" to "State" if someone selects US as a country.

Have you considered the ability to "Share" a Contact? For example, if my Wife wants to share the info she collected about our niece?

Or is the entire idea that each person is logging a unique POV or set of information about someone, rather than the system gravitating towards there being a single, cultivated profile about each person that is shared around?

(right now it's kind of the anti social media -- which seems like a refreshing take. Just curious if that's on purpose)

Instead of sharing, I wonder if I should add multi users to an account, so you and your spouse could manage their relationships with their loved ones, for instance.

Sorry to keep writing "CardDav" under everything, but vCards are an established standard for sharing contacts with arbitrary metadata.

Why not both? I would like a Family or couple account but wouldn't care for a share option.


Thank you so much! I've been looking for something like this (and even contemplated making this myself despite not having any spare time to do so).

My one concern: Can you please make all of your contact information downloadable and backupable. My biggest fear would be putting so much precious data in your app and then having you guys go under... then I would lose everything. Also, I don't want vendor lock-in for something as important as this.

I think the most interesting thing about this is that it's essentially a souped up address book, so it could basically be turned into a vcard with a bunch of extra fields.

This is planned according to the roadmap (https://github.com/monicahq/monica/projects/1). This is crucially important to me as well, so I'll make it happen. Thanks.

Probably a big investment, but my immediate thought is I'd love a mobile app. The mobile site was better than nothing, but if you had a slick mobile app, I would use it constantly. So many times I forget little things that I would love to jot down in exactly this type of product.

e: On birthdays, might be nice to be able to add day/month but no year. I'm working through adding some of my contacts into this and noticing small things as I update/add more.

If only I knew how to make one... I will first create an API in the hopes that someone creates a mobile app for this.

Carddav support would a huge win. Even some sensible markup to store metadata in the notes field could allow some kind of editing on the go, and synchronization.

I'll be watching your github repo / release notes pretty closely - will try and make a simple people / event entry + reminder only mobile app for my personal use (and for others, if there's interest).

If you made a solid API, I would be very interested in developing a react-native app.. :)

An API would definitely be a positive step :) awesome work!

There are some mobile applications that do exactly the same as this service: Ntwrk, CJournalLite, Super Social.

Disclaimer, I created the last one.

This product is dangerous to privacy. It's easy to imagine how this data could be exploited if Monica is sold to Facebook, Google, etc.

How are you working to guarantee my data is protected from any manner use outside my own?

> How are you working to guarantee my data is protected from any manner use outside my own?

From the README on Github:

"We provide a hosted version of this application on https://monicahq.com.

If you prefer to, you can simply clone the repository and set it up yourself on any hosting provider, for free. I'm just asking that you don't try to make money out of it yourself."

So to guarantee the privacy of your data, set it up on your own server (maybe even locally hosted if you're that paranoid) and you're set.

THIS! I had privacy concerns, but you just blew them away. If I can host this in my own server, I'm sold. HUGE THANKS!

As these things go, the privacy policy is excellent, and can be read in under a minute:


It's not excellent. Nothing about data security, encryption at rest, and a whole load of things that would be covered by GDPR (yes the service is registered in Canada, but GDPR standards should be the benchmark now for what is considered acceptable for anything).

This is an intriguing idea as a concept but feels like it isn't a sufficient focus. The privacy page hasn't been updated in 18 months either, yet the release notes mention encryption at rest (with very little detail) being added in October 16.

Just as a data point, this is the first time I ever heard about GDPR. Not sure it's "the minimum acceptable standard for anything".

If you have users in the EU/EEA then you _will_ have to comply, or risk a fine of up to €20,000,000 or 4% of your _global_ turnover (whichever is larger).

It will be if you want to operate in Europe.

That is not a good privacy policy. Founder needs to talk to a lawyer, or the EFF.

For instance:

> Monica runs on Linode and I'm the only one, apart from Linode's employees, who has access to those servers.

This speaks to nothing about future use, which is what my question specifically asked.

Good point.

My question is about this line:

> When you close your account, we will immediately destroy all your personal information and won't keep any backup.

I'd love to hear how you're purging users from your backups, and how long you keep backups.

Not loading now.

If this bothers you just host it yourself, that's why it's open source

That's a good solution for someone like me, who can roll my own, but not someone like my parents who have no idea how to do that. That does not bode well for privacy. Your suggestion is half-assed.

well, i haven't looked too closely, but i guess i'd be ok to run your own if this bugs you too much. there are links to the github repo on the site.

Please add an option to set relationship to a person ( wife, husband, son , friends)

I will, definitely. Thanks for the idea. https://github.com/monicahq/monica/issues/19

Please also allow children/parents to be tied together, and maybe someway to attach people to yourself (like, entering your own s/o)

Please consider creating a 'Deploy to Heroku' button or something similar.

Excellent idea. If only I knew how to do it though :-D

It's actually pretty straight forward; here is the Heroku documentation on it: https://devcenter.heroku.com/articles/heroku-button

An example from one of my projects: https://github.com/elliottcarlson/incidentbot/blob/master/ap...

+1 This would be great!

How much will it cost? (Your service, not hosting my own copy.)

If its free, how will you pay for your costs? (Ads? Selling my data?)

No ads, ever, I hate them. No reselling of data, that practice is the worst for me.

I plan to provide a paid version with an extremely generous free version. The paid version will contain some great features, and will probably be a couple of dollars per month.

Do you hate any type of ads? I see great potential in having service app options that do not seem to me to be very harmful, but I may be wrong... For example, when I mark that I had dinner with my friend at a Japanese food restaurant that I really liked, I could not have an option to book a table using an app like resy.com. Or yelp to find a different one? Or when I note that the last time I was with a friend, it was in a movie theater and this week will launch its sequel, a link to redbox.com. Or in the case of a band show we like, link to ticketmaster?

It does not have to be something that makes it difficult to use, an icon at the end of the note could be enough.

This would most likely mean that an ad script will drop a cookie, scrape the page and dump your data into some DMP for others to buy.

This very much undermines the value of a privacy-focused service.

"The paid version will contain some great features, and will probably be a couple of dollars per month."

Forgive my ignorance, but with the code under the GPL license, how can you offer exclusive features?

Just like any other company that has a community edition and a paid version. (See owncloud or nginx)

As author he is at liberty to publish his own product under whatever license he wishes.

And if he wants to sell a "enterprise" version under a proprietary license he is free to do so.

> No ads, ever, I hate them.

Thank you! We shouldn't trust anyone who thinks otherwise. It should be considered shameful to show paid advertising.

Two feature requests that would make this a killer app for me (yes, I would pay):

1. Import names from Facebook (is this included if I had used Fb to register?)

2. Generate random individual to reach out to, weighted or sorted by when I last contacted them.

Thanks a lot.

1. This is not possible. Facebook does not give me those information through an importer. So it won't happen unless they change their mind.

2. Interesting. I had something similar in mind, I think you'll be pleased when it'll be out.

There's the workaround of exporting it from Facebook and then uploading it to Monica. You'd just need to parse the exported files.

What about a mobile device contact import? Facebook and other platforms update those contacts. That could be your social network workaround.

Heh, I thought fb allowed that for "apps" (you would have to add Monica as an fb app)?

If not, maybe support fb "archives"?


I really love the idea of this but it seems incredibly arduous to keep it updated. Everytime I do something, call someone, have a conversation, learn something new, have lunch, etc - it all has to be tracked.

I suppose this is the price to be paid if one wants to track all of those things, but much like many other CRMs there are integration points that could make this far less work for the consumer.

Thoughts or plans on this?

Some comments:

It's weird seeing the kid number pushed so hard on the dashboard. I'm in college, so that's not really a feature that applies to me.

I'm not a fan of the date picker, an actual calendar popup would be better IMO.

If people are getting unique IDs, it should much rather be a GUID rather than what appears to be an incrementing index.

What's wrong with an incrementing index?

An incrementing index suggests comparison. If you are closer to friend #35 than you are to friend #8, it can feel strange to be exposed to that kind of numbering.

My concern was that it seems like the person ID is shared with all users.

The first person I added was somewhere in the 2000s, rather than starting at 1.

Congrats, this looks really nice, the feedback you're getting here is a good bit of proof that you're on to something people like.

My first reaction to the "CRM to manage friends..." was, what? Why do I need a business tool for my personal life.

I wonder if there is a better terminology than CRM. You bump up against the social network on one end, and a person tool on the other.

I wrote an executive summary for my business last week, and the feedback I got from an advisor was that they loved the idea that there are these two big existing markets, and that their is a middle-ground between them which hasn't been addressed. I think that is what you've got here, it needs to be named. I haven't quite been able to name mine yet either, so I'm not suggesting this is easy.

What do other think? Is the CRM a good label for a personal tool?

CRM = Customer Relationship Manager, so not really an ideal term for something personal. Perhaps 'PRM', but then nobody knows what that stands for.

1) Does it integrate with my calls from my iOS / emails from gmail? So that I can sort by "least recently connected"? otherwise writing notes each time and looking it up gets tiresome. 2) is there a mobile app? 3) how much will it cost monthly? 4) how are reminder sent?

1) No 2) no 3) nothing 4) by email :-D

I love the idea of a personal CRM. However, I hate the idea of duplication of effort. If you can't create interfaces to these other apps, then perhaps make sure you create an interface to IFTTT with enough control that would let me aggregate my data (phone calls, emails, etc.) to folks in Monica without user intervention.

in reference to 4) any chance of adding something like pushbullet?


A similar service is Pushover. They have an e-mail gateway that allows you to send e-mails to your custom Pushover e-mail address and have it be converted into Pushover notifications. Each user has a @pomail.net address assigned when their account is created, and additional addresses can be created with custom options for each one such as a default sound. Highly recommend it.

Awesome work, have been looking for something like this for a while. I would love to see tags for people and a search bar. If I'm trying to organize a casual chess match or pickup soccer game, it would be super convenient to search all my friends with said interest.

Search bar - to search by criteria for instance, or tags?

Tags would be easiest to implement - but an universal search bar for all text would be helpful too.

Thanks for this. I was thinking of making something similar but just for personal use as it would have been much more basic. My use case is that I've been to a couple of family events and I always have trouble remembering the names of ppl I might only see once a year like my cousins kids or husband etc. Or sometimes friends of family members who I will only ever see through them very infrequently.

Ultimately the most amazing use would be to have google glass etc and when I see them their name comes up in a bubble.

Noticed a couple of bugs but im pretty sure they have been reported - e.g. not able to link someone like add a child if they already exist. So at present you can only add one parent


I've built a versoin of this app a few years ago before mobile was big and there are features that I've always wanted for my app that I just didn't get to before I had to move on. The big feature that I've really wanted is integration with my calendar, email, phone, IM, fb, etc... Why? So the system would be able to tell me when I need to interact with someone using something better than a timer. You will probably need a mobile app for some of this to work

There are also two people on IndieHackers who built a mobile version of this who you may want to talk to.

I also own the domain muchcloser if you're interested in it. Let me know if you want to talk.

"Here are everything you can do with Monica"

"Manage food preferencies"

Correct grammar and spelling are easy to overlook and may seem insignificant, but they go a long way in making a good first impression.

http://imgur.com/a/ZtJIW I can't add a birth day of a person.

Chrome Version 58.0.3029.110 (64-bit) OSX

Looks nice though!

This is exactly what I need - but I signed up, closed the window and now I get an endless redirect loop after clicking on "Login" on the main page. Please fix so I can try it out!

EDIT: It works when accessing https://app.monicahq.com/people - the endless redirect only affects https://app.monicahq.com/

Oh god it happens to me sometimes. I have NO idea why. I need to check.

It's a Laravel setting. When you are already logged in and try to access https://app.monicahq.com/ or https://app.monicahq.com/login etc., redirect to https://app.monicahq.com/dashboard instead of https://app.monicahq.com/. That should fix the endless loops.

Edit: https://stackoverflow.com/a/32130028/82135 might be what you are looking for.

Found a bug: adding a debt with a contact will always say "You owe $x" regardless if you select "You owe contact" or "Contact owes you"

Thanks for finding this! https://github.com/monicahq/monica/issues/84 will take care of this.

A couple quick suggestions:

Allow the default currency for debts to change :) I'm based in England, so Dollars don't help me.

On the People list, make the whole list entry clickable, not just the name.

The list of "Country" is not sorted and slow to load.

Can we add other kinds of relatives, not just SOs and children. What about siblings or Uncles?

Question: Where does the name come from? Is it another female assistant in the vein of Siri, Alexa, etc.?

not saying this is where it came from, but this is where i imagined it came from http://i.imgur.com/JCnWZqR.jpg

First thing I thought of as well. I think it's hilarious but I imagine someone will eventually have a problem with it.

Wait, I still don't get it. Can you explain?

I've been learning Laravel for some time now and use it for a few personal and work projects, I'm also new to the open source world and yet to contribute much - are you looking for contributors, or are you just on GitHub for the transparency?

Both :-D I'm not looking for help necessarily but if it helps create a better product, I'm more than happy about it. I don't think we can create a great thing all alone. The idea to open source it, amongst other thing, is the transparency.

I am sorry but this doesn't make any sense to me: I can't aggregate information from calendars (Outlook, Facebook, etc.) or any other information source out there. So every info i take, i have to take twice.

A useful feature for me would be to tag people in photos. That's how I cue my memory when I forget someone. The photos also have the time and location, so I can place it on my calendar.

One thought is that it would extremely useful to be able to interact over SMS: log events, contacts, receive reminders etc. Love the idea, keep it up!

Email is less sexy but free. XMPP support gets you quick/dirty Slack and Hipchat integration. Something like a Hubot extension could be a fun way to interact as well. Or Alexa/Home! Or IFTTT. Ok then, maybe just an open API?

It's too bad all of the metadata around a contact can't be kept with the contact in a portable way, and then Monica could just be an API for pointing at CardDAV and other contact servers, and a UI for interacting with them in unique ways. Personal clouds, etc.

I've thought about CardDAV of course, but it was too complex for a basic v1 like what I posted today.

I think Monica could be just an open API. The API is definitely something I'll work on in the next weeks, because of its potential.

Problem with this: SMS has a price, and would people be willing to pay for this?

Could be a paid feature, I wouldn't mind paying for advanced features like that. I've been searching for a personal, non-sales oriented "CRM" platform for months now and am currently using Accompany but this feels far more personal.

I don't know Accompany, but no matter what, even if you use Monica for business, my personal view of business relationships evolves around knowing the intimate details of the person and remember the kids name, for instance. Things you won't find in Salesforce :-D

Yes, and also staying in touch meaningfully enough that it doesn't seem tacky and manipulative when asking about the kids :)

Maybe support putting a user's own Twilio creds in?

Also, love your project! How do I give you money?

Edit: I'll keep an eye out for the link!

For now, you can't give me money. I'll put a link in the coming days, but you'll probably be gone :-D Thanks anyway, appreciate it.

Messenger Bots could solve this problem, as well as a Mobile App.

It would be neat if there was a demo. For this kind of stuff I'd rather not give my information till I know what I'm in for completely.

There are instructions for setting up your own instance on the Github page. https://github.com/monicahq/monica

Is it possible to see the code? I do not see a link to the code source.

There's a github link in the footer. https://github.com/monicahq/monica

The first thing I looked for was data export and import. I have an export from google contacts I'd like to import to get started quickly. I would also like to know that I can get my data out to use in other applications (a table for the activity logs joined on the relationship's ID, a table for the relationships, etc.).

The "Edit" link under "Personal Information" should also be Blue, like the "Add" links under the other sections. It took me about 40 seconds to figure that out because of the confusion.

Editing reminders would be useful. More flexible reminder timing (things like "end of the month", which could be more or less than 30 days apart, are very useful).

You should be able to select an existing Person entry for the Significant Other field. Also, if you add somebody through the Significant Other field, they should show up as a person.

You should also be able to delete a Person.

You are right. Import is high on my roadmap [1].

Export will be next, too. It's vital to not be locked in.

Editing reminders, yeah, I didn't do it at first because it's way less trivial that it might look, but it's in my todo as well ;-)

Thanks for all your ideas, they all make a lot of sense.

[1]: https://github.com/monicahq/monica/projects/1

Please consider supporting Carddav as much as is sensible! It's the existing open standard.

I spent an unreal amount of time gardening my list after tearing myself away from Gmail and Facebook.

Separate from non-lock-in reasons, I'd consider using the hosted version if I could export data at a later time so I could go self-hosted in the future (say, if I start writing some code for it and there's no API that does what I want).

Same here - especially for export. I'm hesitant about pouring in hours and data into this if it's locked in one place unable to be pulled or migrated.

Why did you decide to make this a site rather than a desktop app?

This is a private database as I see it, so there is no need for it to be online. And keeping it offline would be good for privacy, and would make it easy for anyone to download and install, rather than the more complex install needed for a web application (or letting someone else host and sacrificing privacy).

Because I just know web technologies. Also, because having a web app will allow me to create an API, which will allow to use a mobile app for this, which totally makes sense.

If you care about the privacy, you can also host this yourself :-D

Also because there are many times when you may not be in front of your own computer but you have your phone with you.

My uncle died suddenly this year. He was unbelievably caring - and not just to family - but to everyone he ever met. His funeral was jam packed with everyone from homeless people to executives of multi-billion dollar companies.

I always thought that his ability to always have you, and whatever you had last talked about with him, on his mind at any moment was some kind of supernatural gift. I was surprised to find out at his funeral that he actually kept an excel spreadsheet of everyone he met and what they needed and were going through. He reviewed this constantly.

It didn't lessen his genuine love for everyone, just let him be a little more super human.

I feel like him doing that with a spreadsheet is more impressive than having some kind of photographic social memory.

He cared about people enough to make familiarity and kindness a discipline and habit that he lived. Despite many of our apps, life hacks, and "social medias" we miss the simple insight; social kindness is rooted in just giving enough of a damn to have a discipline for it. Any tool is secondary.

"social kindness is rooted in just giving enough of a damn to have a discipline for it" -binarypaean

Well said! Thanks for sharing!

This is exactly what Facebook should be. An augmented agent to help us be more helpful and empathetic to friends and family.

I'm sorry for your loss. Your uncle sounds like a great human being.

But what it really is an advertising platform. I mean if Facebook charged for usage then I'd pay for it.

That's pretty much what FB and the government use it for...

Yeah, fb should kill this open source startup! ;p Seriously, though, i think it would really creep people out if fb had a feature to take notes about what you talked with people who aren't even joined up.

But not one uses FB. I got friends who are on Line and WeChat exclusively. Some part of the world don't have access to FB.

"Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded" - anonymous, but often attributed to Yogi Berra

Because it gets late early?

1.28 billion daily active users on average for March 2017 [https://newsroom.fb.com/company-info/]

would greatly disagree with your statement. It may not be the answer for everyone, but it could be that tool for a large chunk of the world's population.

This is what a lot of us who don't hate Zuck's guts actually do use FB for.

It's not that I hate Zuckerberg that I find it hard to use Facebook, but that I trust them less than the other super-presences outs there (justified or not), and I dislike how it changes my perceptions of some of my friends. The constant posting of inane shit starts to look less like keeping in touch and more like an addiction to my eyes. I still like those people, and enjoy their company, but being constantly exposed to their posts feels like being in their living room as they crack open that 8 AM beer after waking up. It gets uncomfortable, but it's also not something I'm sure it's my place to butt into, since to this point it appears mostly harmless.

It is the best tool to keep in contact we currently have though, so I do pop in every week or two to check on notifications. The times I go longer I end up missing events friends have put together and not notified in other ways about, so I try to remember to check in fairly regularly.

I only hope they don't swing their attention towards those of us that shun the feed any time soon, and try to find a way to tweak our reward response for that as well (or at least in a more effective way. I'm sure they've put at least some attention to it).

I still sometimes wonder if anyone else has a good name for what Facebook lost somewhere in the switch between the much more ephemeral "Status" system of 2004's TheFacebook to today's "Posts" and their littered, ad-filled home the "News Feed".

Even the "Notes" system in the middle of the transition was more "opt in" than firehose and a bit more rare and curated by the fewer users using it.

There is a spirit to the old systems lost to the new ones that I can't quite name. In the rush to increase communication overall, and build an addictive platform that people feel a need to check often, perhaps too much of the signal has been drowned out in noise. But that doesn't feel a strong description either because the signals become so different, too.

Separation of responsibilities?

Statuses were great as a brief update of a friend's change in their state of mind. I could follow up as I saw fit, often just keeping it in mind for the next time we met up.

Posts and news is just a steady steam of information... repeated opinions, content that forms their opinion, attempts at converting others, or minor events that would have been interesting to talk about but bland now that I've seen the highlights online... Often in impersonal monologue form, or equally impersonal many-to-many chat.

Those features gutted the middle of the friend spectrum, their UX no longer aligns with natural social patterns. Humans talk more and about different things as we become closer friend's, slowly acclimating to each other. Facebook is optimized for tight social groups. News posts are useful for my inner group, but I had to unfriend most of my more nebulous connections because their updates were basically spam in the context of my life.

Facebook's features no doubt provides better revenue from ads/targeted spam for shareholders, but they've lost what I found useful for networking and developing new relations. If anything, their new features are impediments.

At this point, I've completely dropped Facebook in favor of email and chat (mix of apps)... It's a better experience than Facebook news and posts, obvious data privacy wins, and my friends and I can share higher resolution pictures without coupling to any specific platform. I haven't found a good alternative for networking, aside from LinkedIn (okish) and plain ol' phone calls/sms/in-store meetups. Maybe that's the best there is.

I think this gets close to the meat of it, yes. TheFacebook in 2004 was still something closer to its yearbook metaphor: here's the people I met this year in college and here's what they wrote on my yearbook that year.

I guess the real emblematic touch point of the change over the years is much more from each person's "Wall" being the important push hubs of conversations to the "Wall" being subsumed by the modern "Timeline" and relegated to an annual flurry of birthday well-wishers and not much else.

That opt-in push mentality versus opt-out pull mentality is quite different: I'm going to go post this cool thing on my friend's wall BECAME I'm going to post this cool thing and maybe all of my friends might see it in their news feeds (if the algorithms deem it maybe worthy and my friends haven't muted me).

Maybe that's why "Events" still seems like one of the bright spots in Facebook? "Events" for the most part still retains a lot of an "opt-in push mentality"; for the most part you still create an event and explicitly invite friends to it. Certainly the News Feed has the pull sort of events and the "I'm Interested" interest pull buttons, but the events I really care about still follow that classic push model, and probably always will...

In TheFacebook we delegated responsibility to post things we cared about to our Walls to our friends. In Facebook we find that responsibility to curate the things we care about in our News Feeds has been delegated to algorithms and advertisers somewhat beyond our control.

I think the new equivalent of "I'm going to go post this cool thing on my friend's wall" is "I'm going to send this to my friend on Messenger", although that can be borderline too once you start talking about groups with more than two people.

I agree Events is the highlight of Facebook these days. Although, it has been steadily corroded as well, and FB Messenger's Plans has muddied the waters a fair chunk.

Weird programming analogy that works for me: it went from being a library to being a framework. For your life.

As in, Facebook used to expect you to have to come and poll it. There was information there about the current state of things, and that information was replaced when people updated their status et al. You had to look, and look often, if you wanted to keep up. It was addictive, in both the good and bad senses of that word.

Today's Facebook is active, making your interaction with it passive; it keeps up to date on things for you, and notifies you when it thinks you would be interested in knowing something. You're the delegate module. You don't talk to it; it talks to you. You never actually have to check it or look at it.

Actually, for another analogy: today's Facebook is almost like a secretary. (It'd be one for real if it could guess your intentions well-enough to automatically accept/reject event invitations.) Like a secretary, there's no reason to go bother them. Nothing useful to be gained by polling. Zero addiction potential.

What's popular these days? Snapchat. Guess why?

enlighten me...

`derefr` might've implied snapchat is addictive because you _have_ to poll it constantly like once everyday

I wonder if you have a slightly over-romanticized view of the old FB. I got on FB sometime in 2007 and for a few years it was overrun with quizzes and games and such spam. It was a different kind of spam from ad-spam but today's FB seems much more streamlined in many senses.

2004 when I first joined was a year or so before a lot of the quizzes and games and such spam. At the time the "spam" was a large collection of "Groups" that had silly in-joke names specific to your College/University. That time "Groups" were more like a list of hobbies than the "Groups" of today. "Photos" also didn't show up until a few months after I first joined.

I'm not saying we should romanticize the incomplete, under-developed TheFacebook of 2004, but only that the things that made it viral on college campuses in 2004 are very different from those that made it viral among the masses in 2014. I'm not sure which one is better or worse, it's definitely complicated. But there's definitely that feeling that Facebook is not TheFacebook any more. Not just branding, but in... spirit, maybe? Like I said there's word missing that I'm curious to find.


Facebook was fun in 2005. Now it's just ... addictive.

It's hard for me to think of it as "addictive". Every time I use it, I end up scrolling briefly through about 20 different 10 QUICK TIPS, YOU WONT BELIEVE WHAT THIS DOLPHIN DID, and RECIPES MADE TO LOOK QUICKER THAN THEY ARE before I leave.

Facebook was much more engaging when I actually saw words and images coming out of people who I know or once knew.

I use Facebook as my primary tool to keep in touch with friends, but at some point it's become almost unusable for it.

My main issue is people tagging each other in those "Tag a mate who X" or "@g has to X" shitposts. It just clutters my newsfeed with useless shit.

Yeah, I don't get that. I see some people who like to reflect their interests online but I don't consider it inane or addiction. You have a hobby, why not share it online?

It becomes a problem when you've got people who are incredibly single-minded about something.

I don't mind my coworker's weekly posts about car stuff at all, even though I have no interest whatsoever. And when he posts some progress on some car repair he's doing, I'm glad to see he's doing something he loves.

But when my SJW friend posts yet another ridiculous over-the-top post about how all X are X, and somehow thinks this means they aren't be prejudiced themselves, it's hard to handle. You can't tell them anything, either, because there's something different about you that makes them think you're unable to empathize with them, or understand what they're going through.

Some of them are so incredibly obviously wrong, too. Like: All cops are corrupt.

This is a person who is pretty fun to be around and hosts parties that are fun. In person, they aren't so overbearing about this stuff. But online? They're a monster who can't be corrected or even debated with. If you do, you're X and can't understand.

In short, I think you're fortunate not to have anyone single-minded like this on your Facebook friends list. The only real solution is to just unfollow them, which is horrible because you then miss the posts from them that you actually want to see.

I have a slowly-brewing notion that it will eventually be a matter of etiquette, to ensure that any content your produce is properly tagged such that people can treat you as a subset of yourself. Eventually—hopefully—it will be seen as incredibly uncouth to intermingle personal, political, and pastime content into one feed with no ability to re-separate them.

But that time is, sadly, not today. Until then, building feed-readers with topic-analysis auto-tagging might help.

One thing I've been noticing about Mastodon[0] is that it is incredibly easy to segregate your personal, political, and pastime posts, trivially by having multiple sites in multiple browser tabs, but even better with a client that supports multiple accounts. You can tie your different identities together through your profile, and import/export your subscription lists between instances. And everyone who follows you can follow only those of your identities that they are interested in.

[0]: https://joinmastodon.org/

Hmm, well I admit I do hide posts from a few of my friends. It's pretty easy, you know.

I don't think there's anything wrong with people posting about their hobbies, or what's up in their lives, even multiple times a day.

I have people that post multiple times every hour. Sometimes 8-10 times an hour for short periods. Generally it looks like reposting everything they read. They become a one person news aggregator, if by "news" we mean Facebook posts tailored for meme propagation (which means a good portion of them range from misleading to blatantly false).

I don't really use my feed, so I'm not bothered by the posts being in my feed for my own sake. I'm just a bit worried that they've become obsessed with Facebook attention to an unhealthy degree.

That's what you think you'd LIKE to use FB for. But remember, the medium is the message. You can't escape the interactive narrow mindedness of FB because it is inherent to the design of the overall product.

In reality, you use FB to have your data packaged up and sold to advertisers, brands, and government agencies. You're the product, not the customer.

Having everyone watch all your interactions with your nearest and dearest creeps me the fuck out. I'm more private than that

Yeah, but if you have 10 or more friends your 'wall' gets littered with all kinds of useless information. Unless you unfollow and explicitly tell to not to show any of their likes and other random information.

I do exactly this and have no problem with FB. I only friend people I actually know and care to have interactions with, and I kick anyone who's posts are overall more worth my time than not off my feed. This means my feed is actually worth scrolling through (and takes maybe 10 minutes every couple days to get through) and if I want to see what's going on with some particular person who isn't on my feed, I can go to their page and skim through.

I don't get all the hate on FB. Sure, the default is mess, but that's what most people want, and if it's not what you want, there are means to control it and still have a powerful communication tool. A tool is what you make of it, and it's really not hard to make use of FB in a sane way.

Unless FB facilitates this use (which it doesn't -- back in the day, maybe) then whether one hate's Zuck's guts or not is not really relevant.

I agree, but they do make it harder to use for anything but posting memes every year.

If you want to become a generous person such as him, when do you know when you've reached a limit in compassion? Would someone like your uncle ever think, for someone who is excessively rude, uncaring, disagreeable, unfriendly: "he is not worth my time, I should move on?"

That's a great question!

Actually, the last time I saw my uncle, I asked how he could be generous, and yet not be taken advantage of or stuck with horrible people.

He said that what he'd learned to do was to condition whatever help he was offering on the person taking some tiny step first. Often, it was as simple as "make up a budget for you and your wife to go on a three day getaway, send it to me, and I'll write you a check." He said that almost everyone who was just in it for the handouts couldn't be bothered.

My uncle also mixed a lot of his giving with encouraging young people's talents. He'd hire students who were excited in X, to do X for him in some way. He hired students to take photos, make music, decorate houses, build apps, archive things, paint, and who knows what else. He even hired a student to make memes. This way the students not only got money, but grew in their skills and were excited that someone wanted their work.

There were, of course, some rude and uncaring people in his life. But those people didn't want to spend time with him so there was never really a conflict there.

This is great stuff. My aunt would pay us to read books. We had to provide a hand-written summary/review to her to collect. I can't remember the exact amount - somewhere between $8 and $18 each.

One of the reasons why I think your uncle's gestures made such a big impact is that he made gestures that rewarded good things AND he wasn't a relative to many of the people he interacted with.

When I was about 10 yrs old one of my dad's best friends asked me about my grades and I was proud to say I got straight A's. He reached into his pocket and gave me a $5 bill which was a lot back then for a kid and I knew he didn't have a lot of money too. It was fun spending it at the arcade and also bragging a bit to other friends. :) I'll actually never forget that moment because it was the first one I can recall where a non-family member / non-teacher praised my grades.

The only other moment I can recall was from grade school when an older student used to hand out fireworks to those that showed their report card with straight As. You can imagine how all the top students rushed out of school ready to redeem their report card for some fireworks their parents would probably never buy except for maybe July 4th. Possibly dangerous but absolutely brilliant. A cheap fun reward that literally celebrates the accomplishment.

Most of us get told how special and amazing we are by our parents and family all the time growing up. Often times the praise isn't really deserved since we're special snowflakes. When a stranger, family friend or anyone not related gives praise or reward it can be extremely impactful and reinforce that we're on the right path and that it really does matter. Those moments get seared into our memories.

I'm working on figuring out how to do some sort of unannounced cash or gift reward to those with straight As with one of the local public schools.

Your short retelling of your uncle's kindness has rather inspired me to be more diligent in my approach to being kind to others. Thank you for sharing!

It really is a thoughtful and beautiful gift to his uncle beyond the grave which is truly amazing.

You don't have to be best friends with someone like that to be kind to them.

I think the limit should be in allowing that person to take advantage of your kindness.

On the contrary, keeping that kind of a file up to date would require effort and caring more than if he did not have to.

Your uncle sounds like an interesting man. I wish I could have known him.

I'd echo that sentiment.

I'm also curious as to the format of the spreadsheet! How did Uncle add new events &c - just modify a cell or add a new row with some kind of key?

I'm interested in tracking interactions with my adult education students...

Been thinking about this at the same time I've been trying to find a use for Airtable. It seems like a great product but I've never had an obvious use case until now. Seems like it could be a great fit.

That's a great story, thanks for sharing it with us.

Whenever someone gets a new app idea in our office my one colleague always asks "Can it be solved with a spreadsheet or an instant messenger?". Well I guess this comment answers that question.

Idea: A web site / app where you write what you and your friends have/need, then via social-graph and match-making, you are introduced to other people via friends of friends, and on a set date you do the exchange, so you receive the apples from person A and send your oranges to person B. I used goods in this example, but it should be all but goods or money, it should be like favors, jobs, dates, fishing friend, etc.

Dale Carnegie wrote about doing just this in How to Win Friends and Influence People. This is very common among successful people, and shows an astonishing level of caring imo.

yes, i'm sure homeless people and billionaire execs rubbed elbows, trumping their class antagonism!

I built one of these for myself in 1995 and have been happily using it ever since. Here's the source code:

  0 0 19 7 *      /usr/bin/mail -s "REMINDER: john T. birthday" me@mydomain.com
  0 0 1 8 *       /usr/bin/mail -s "REMINDER: MAKE xmas hotel reservations NOW for good pricing..." me@mydomain.com

Switched over to 'remind' personally..

Date calculations are much more flexible and the files can be modular.. and there's printed calendar generation options if you so choose.


There is also the traditional Unix 'calendar' program as well..

Could you explain how it works? I wonder what 0 0 19 7 * means.

It's a unix/linux crontab, for repetitive task. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cron

It's minute, hour, day of month, month, day of week

In this case, repeat every 19th of july at midnight.

This is why I like HN, and why it continues to be a much-higher-quality place to visit on the web than many other forums: there were no snarky replies, no "I can't believe you don't know cron" - just multiple friendly, helpful replies explaining exactly what this format is.

What a good community.

Agreed, though my first reaction was definitely: "I can't believe you don't know cron". I had to step back a little and remember who the audience is. Then I wrote my comment (at the same time as everyone else here did).

Actually my first thought was - that guy was a smart-ass showing off. Of course many people wouldn't know a crontab line - Windows (and I guess Mac - never had one) don't have such magical tools.

Mac has cron. It's pretty standard on *NIX systems.

Yeah but is superseded by launchd. So although it has cron, it's not running by default for many years.

The file is a "cron schedule" [1]. Paste the series of numbers (and the *) into the box on the site below and you'll see it means "midnight on July 19th every year". The commenter will probably have this in their personal "crontab" file. They're emailing themselves every year on that date.

[1] https://crontab.guru/

Have a look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cron#Overview.

In short: At 00:00 hours on 19/07 (i.e. July 19) execute that command. The * means 'regardless of what day of the week it is'.

Regardless of what year, actually. So you're reminded of your friend's birthday every year, not just this one.

[Edit:] What the... Nope, sorry, seems you're right and I'm wrong -- weekly it is. [/Edit]

This is a CRON Job and the notation indicates the time and frequency that an action should take place. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cron

it's a crontab file.

'0 0 19 7 ' means 'midnight of July 19th, regardless () the weekday.

It is example 2 from 'man crontab'.

It is crontab.

Are you going to convert them all to systemd services? =p

You make your xmas hotel reservations on January 8? :) That's thinking ahead...

First day of 8th month..

You are sure to get good pricing at that point!

first day of August not January 8

I also use Cron for the same purposes; for one-time events, especially further in the future, I use a combination of at and mail.

IMHO: You want to pivot this product, now, to compete with ourfamilywizard.com. OFW is a great concept but the site runs slow, its search and reporting is erratic and basic, and the UI can be difficult. It is, however, the only game in town for managing divorced families and its about $200 per year. It also features:

- Timestamped and hashed communications and records. - Lower price point than OFW. - More intuitive reporting.

This will NOT have widespread appeal under its current use, and will be tough to make money from.

Thanks for pointing out to this site. There is probably a lot of good ideas to take from it.

> There is probably a lot of good ideas to take from it.

They might actually be robinhood.

Is anyone else getting a dystopian vibe from the idea of "managing" friends and family?

I can definitely see this service being useful, but that branding makes me feel very uncomfortable.

Nope. Unless you are a psychopath you have always managed friends/family even if was managed informally in your head. You used to have a Rolodex of phone numbers and addresses. You may have even kept additional information about the person in your Rolodex, perhaps their birthday or anniversary. Important dates and social obligations used to be written on a wall or desk calendar so you didn't forget. You make notes (written or mental) of people's needs and preferences in order to accommodate them. (ie "I better have a vegetarian meal for Susan.", "John works nights so I better not call him until 6." "Sarah likes red wine.", "Joe doesn't like clubing.") You store in your mind what is happening in friend's lives to talk to them about it next time you see them. You made a paper list of people to send out event invitations, thank you notes, or Christmas cards so you don't forget anyone.

It's all social management, even if informal. But it's so natural you might not have thought about it as "management."

Nothing wrong with formalizing it and taking it all digital, if anything it can foster closer relationships if it's easy to use and consolidated. Someone can only remember so much at once and its great they care enough to store that information for easy retrieval in the future. We have never, as a society, faulted people for writing things down, (Rolodex is a generic trademark, for crying out loud), we are all only human. We don't think twice about setting a reminder to take medication or water the plants.

I believe you're missing the GP's point, which is the unwelcome connotations of power relations that attach in the words 'management' and 'customer' (from CRM). Generally a manager exerts authority over those managed, although it's true that managers in the showbiz world are the employees of performers rather than the other way around.

It's kinda weird, but it's way better than facebook. This is a digital social journal & planner. If it helps me cultivate healthier relationships, I could get into that. We need tools like this to combat the parasitic overlords' tools.

I know :-/ Sorry about this, I'm trying to find the best way to explain what it does, without using a boring video that sucks, or poetic terms that say nothing. If you have any idea, please, please let me know :-D

"Your social memory" works much better than "manage your friends and family". So take this as a complaint about the HN headline, not about the site itself.

I wouldn't have clicked through if it said "your social memory". That sounds like some NGO talking about causes.

But this I instantly understood.

Lots of people use planners and datebooks to remember important dates (like your high school best friend's upcoming wedding!) And lots of people use journals or diaries to take notes or keep memories.

These things are less about "managing" and more about cultivating relationships and memories. "Organizing" is a word with less controlling vibes. Maybe start there and take a journey through the thesaurus? http://www.thesaurus.com/browse/organizing?s=t

Ohhh that's a very good idea. I disliked the notion of management, and organization makes much more sense. Thanks a lot!

Here are some other ones that might help:

- stay in touch/keep in touch

- coordinate

- focus

- balance

- "look after", as in "look after you relationships"

How about terms related to tending a garden?

"nurture" "Attend to" "Mind to" "Tend to" "Cultivate" "Nourish"

Garden metaphors always do it for me.

The word "manage" has to go, but it's a tough one. Any word having to do with augmentation is too robot/AI sounding. I like the idea of "cultivating," as in the Dale Carnegie approach or the another commenter's awesome uncle with the spreadsheet. But it's a balance of memory and cultivation.

Anyway, nice work.

My memory is terrible, I've wanted something like this for ages to manage my life in general, love it!!

I would like this to be hosted for $12/year.

Blush. Thanks for the feedback. Glad that all the hours sitting on my couch coding this tool helps you today :-D

I think you could convey this pretty well if you changed the first screen shot on your page a little.

Cut out the actual browser window part, and paste that on to an image of an address book/planner with the same information about Jim Halpert. That way it's an instant visual association with an existing non-computer idea.

The product is super cool and useful, although I hope you won't limit it to being a single-user thing because it could actually evolve into an amazing social tool. But I would really lose the word 'manage', it kind of suggests that personal relations are just another kind of task which is apt to make the people being related to feel devalued because they're not important enough to be given space in someone's day-to-day consciousness.

poetic terms that say nothing


If poetic terms say nothing then why is poetry (both literary and lyrical, as in songs) so popular? Social relations are not purely functional or transactional, although they often have those aims or characteristics. Friendship and warm familial relations are based on feelings. I often say that hackers need to develop better emotional intelligence and this is a good example.

Would you take someone on a date and say 'statistics indicate that we have a high degree of socioeconomic compatibility and synergistic aesthetic appeal, suggesting that we should pursue a merger strategy so as to maximize our mutual future advantage?' Most people would prefer to hear something along the lines of 'I love you and want to marry you.'

I understand that your product is aimed at busy people who are invested in their work and want to handle their social relations at least as well as their business ones. But you need to be cognizant of their motivations for doing that; because they like, love and generally care about the people in their lives that lie outside their career. It is that drive which might move someone to start using your product, and you must appeal to that drive, which is an emotional one, in emotional terms.

Incidentally, calling it Monica carries connotations of having an assistant called Monica that helps you remember those little personal obligations and although I'm sure you didn't intend this it gives me a sort of sexist vibe because historically such tasks have often been delegated to stereotypically female subordinates by busy executives (think Pepper Potts in the Iron Man story franchise).

Even though both men and women seem to prefer female identities for things like GPS and virtual assistants, a gendered brand identity like this is likely to limit your appeal to one half of the population straight out of the gate. The brand values you wish to attach to your product are reliability, loyalty, and patience, so it would be worth your while to dig through mythology and fiction in search of characters who are associated with those qualities and then develop variations from any particularly inspiring name stems you encounter so as to leverage those psychic associations.

You know what I meant. I didn't imply poetry meant nothing. Of course not. But I see SAAS more and more describing their product in ways that are too marketing to me. I prefer to go straight to the point.

Regarding the gender, I don't know what to think about this. It's not by any mean a way to degrade women. I will definitely consider choosing another name because I understand how some people could be offended by that, which is not at all my intention, ever.

For what it's worth, I don't see what all the fuss is about the name. In fact, I like it. Do these same people complain about other software named after people, like Cassandra, Linux, MySQL, Haskell etc...

Of course I know what you meant, but I'm trying to give you some free branding advice that would substantially increase the likely uptake for your tool.I am not a marketing oriented person either, but successful businesses often spend about the same money/effort on marketing as they do on product development. That's certainly the magic formula in the film industry - 50% on the production and 50% on the ad campaign.

I agree and thanks a lot for your comment. I know I should be much better at marketing, it's nearly the most important criteria for a software to succeed.

You might choose a name like Courtney, that is used by both men and women.

> personal relations are just another kind of task which is apt to make the people being related to feel devalued because they're not important enough to be given space in someone's day-to-day consciousness.

You seem to indicate that this devaluation is a sort of false accusation to which we should not make ourselves vulnerable.

Yet, that subordinate clause rings true to me as an independent statement.

Why should I let just any person (particularly family; none of mine know CS) occupy any nontrivial amount of space in my day-to-day consciousness; when such space could instead be used by something useful?

Get a neurotypical person to explain to you.

To me it's "an external brain for your social life".

Here's a non-boring video. It has some good product taglines.


No. My wife and I foster, so keeping track of hearings, therapies, medications, milestones, visitations, continuing education, etc. is quite a chore. This looks intriguing, but we are already restricted from posting to any social media, so as a family we decided to not host any data externally, if we can help it. If this were self hosted I'd be taking a much closer look.

It is self hosted if you like, it's open source. Feel free to host it yourself. https://github.com/monicahq/monica

I don't know how I missed that! Thank you for the direct link. I will take a closer look at it and give you feedback in the future.

I know how you feel, it's my first thought as well. But then I realise that I'm doing this anyway - I put appointments in my diary to call my grandparents, I have todo lists for things to do with my wife, and I record promises I've made to friends so I don't forget. Having it all in one place sounds like a nice idea.

I did, but I sort of talked myself out of it. I keep a lot of PIM-level info on people in my address book already (which is on my computer and syncs to my phone, etc), so it's not like I don't keep some of this, but I don't go to the level of tracking when I do stuff with people other than placing reminders on my calendar. I think calling it a CRM is what's weird - it's making your friend group something different, when really it's just a fancy rolodex. The trick is for them to never, ever get hacked, should you keep some unsavory stuff in there - I think it feels like a better offline thing to me, not because I like to keep a shit list on people, but because my friends are worth more to me than most of the stuff I do online.

"Is anyone else getting a dystopian vibe from the idea of "managing" friends and family?"

First thing I thought. Although, it is accurate in a sense given that there's a lot to track, filter, setup and so on. It's why the same activities are called "management" in CRM. It's just socially unacceptable to say the truth sometimes. In this case, the author should change the wording so it doesn't say CRM or "manage." Instead, some propaganda along lines of "family reminder app" so you "don't miss an opportunity" might sound nicer. Actually, the opening paragraph seems fine.

I see it more like keeping track of things. Of, course we might get into the territory you are referring to once you see that you have all this data and you start manipulating your and other's behaviour based on this data.

However, the need for recording and documentation is as old as scribbles on a cave wall and some also really do need to document things to remember.

I must agree, though, with the wording. It is unfortunate but it probably does attract those who have an itch for efficiency.

My first thought was that it can be subpoenaed.

For example: if, unbeknownst to you, two of your friends were involved in some kind of criminal conspiracy and you had spoken/met with both of them near the time it was known that they had met, an enterprising prosecutor could use your record of having met with them to accuse you of having taken part.

Hum. Is there anything I can do to prevent that?

You can encrypt data on your side and only decrypt it when your users sign in. This is the approach SimpleTax uses in Canada.

Send me an email and I'll be happy to go into more detail. (I'm on a plane which is hopefully taking off soon, so I don't have time to write more right now.)

- "No knowledge" (e.g. decrypted on the client) data storage. Very very difficult to do well.

- Make it easy for people to host data independently of you. Either by running your app on thier server (related to discussion above about for Heroku/Sandstorm, but a regular VPS is probably preferable), or using your client to read data stored in some generic format, e.g. an existing CardDav server, or even just Dropbox, with the web UI running locally, or as an extension.

The most important features for self hosting are probably maturity and stability, and signed releases via an up-to-date PPA.

For using some generic back-end you'd need to support it.

Even if people self-host, if a prosecutor suspected you had data about them meeting they could probably subpoena your server.

That's true of any server or any data. The point is that you control it.

I can't think of any good, practical way to do it.

Theoretically, running the software on a server in Sealand or something like that would put the physical hardware beyond the reach of a subpoena but then, they could lock you up for contempt if you don't give your password to it.

Not really. If it's on your server and not protected by something like the DMCA, you have to turn it over if legally ordered to. Check with a lawyer though.

The DMCA is unlikely to affect a subpoena.

I get the exact same feeling mixed with some pity for people who need to be reminded to meet a friend. Moreover, hell, if you don't know the names of your brothers children, there is something wrong with you and this app won't change that.

It does feel gross, even if we all implicitly do it. Some things aren't meant to be consciously commodified, I think. It's like the thought experiment of asking a friend (or your mom) how much you owe them if they make you dinner.

On the other hand for keeping track of interactions with my adult education students, it looks quite useful.

Anyone comment on data export functions?

You can't export for now, but this is something I have in mind. You should be able to be in total control of your data, for sure. So I'll do that. Probably in CSV.

Excellent and I suppose CSV is the nearest we have for a lowest common denominator format for structured data

CardDav exists for pretty much this purpose. It's how contact lists are exported from Google, LinkedIn, iOS, mail clients, etc., and has fields for arbitrary metadata.

That makes me much more confident in spending the time to input my data. Cool.

The only thing dystopian about this is the service eventually selling off the data and others data mining you even more detailed.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact