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Want to offer something on a membership basis? MemberMan wants to help

(TECH NEWS) MemberMan is not just a member directory and event calendar, but a robust and streamlined interface that encourages social networking between members.

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Simplify your membership

As a member and event leader for an outdoor social organization ten years ago, one of the club features that kept me engaged was the organization of its members and events. A co-founder had created a membership and event database that made it fairly easy to sign up as a member as well as for events. For the technology available at that time, it seemed quite innovative.

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Now members expect more – not just a member directory and event calendar, but a robust and streamlined interface that encourages social networking between members. Currently in beta, MemberMan is a membership database software that seems quite capable of meeting and exceeding those expectations.

One platform to rule them all

MemberMan allows administrators to customize the membership application, payment, and renewal processes, as well as contact management. Users can log in and use a CRM style interface to connect to and engage with other members within their group. The monthly pricing seems quite reasonable compared to other member tracking software, and is based on the number of admins as well as a generous number of members.

MemberMan promises to be a robust solution supported on Heroku with its web application built with Ruby on Rails and PostgreSQL database backend integrated with other systems.

The origin story

What impressed me on my first visit to the MemberMan website itself was the blog. I expected the posts to consist of hard pitches for the software as is the case with other product and service sites’ blogs. I was quite pleased to be proven wrong, as each article was informative, relevant, and of great value to the target audience – and not a single self-reference or redirect to “buy this product.”

I was then intrigued by a mildly inconspicuous chat icon in the lower corner of the screen. I decided to test the MemberMan team’s responsiveness during their beta phase through their live chat which was supported by Intercom.

Their chat program uses the Intercom, and in under two minutes I was engaged in a pleasant conversation with founder and creator Ryan Heneise, an entrepreneur with a passion for charities.

With an educational background in organizational leadership, Heneise has worked with nonprofits for most of his career. He grew up in Haiti where his parents and grandparents were missionaries. His grandparents founded the Haiti Hope Fund which supports education, health clinics and the arts, in a country where eighty percent of people live in poverty. Heneise carried on his grandparent’s legacy after they passed away by working with the Haiti Hope Fund.

Heneise has since become a software developer and entrepreneur, and in 2008 created Donortools, a database tool for donor management. In regards to his development of MemberMan, Heneise stated, “I’m thrilled to be working on another app that helps organizations be even better at serving their members.”

The future of MemberMan

After noticing that organizations of which he was a member would let his membership lapse without reminder of renewals, he began researching what membership tracking software was available and found very little. “I realized why,” Heneise stated, “It was time for someone to build something better.”

Heneise’s main goals for MemberMan are to increase member engagement by providing a private online community and self-service portal for members, decrease member “churn,” and increase member retention by preventing members from accidentally lapsing.

“I wanted a tool that would help me to become more engaged in the organizations that I’m involved in. I wanted to be able to connect with fellow members in a meaningful way online. And I wanted it to be fun, unlike the drudgery of using an ordinary database.”

In my role as an event volunteer coordinator, I have used and been unsatisfied with various tools including spreadsheets, Microsoft Access, VolunteerHub, and Shiftboard. I am quite interested in the applicability of MemberMan to organize and retain volunteers for events throughout the year, and foster a more robust and engaged volunteer community.

#MemberMan

Debbie Cerda is a seasoned writer and consultant, running Debra Cerda Consulting as well as handling business development at data-driven app development company, Blue Treble Solutions. She's a proud and active member of Austin Film Critics Association and the American Homebrewers Association, and Outreach Director for science fiction film festival, Other Worlds Austin. She has been very involved in the tech scene in Austin for over 15 years, so whether you meet her at Sundance Film Festival, SXSWi, Austin Women in Technology, or BASHH, she'll have a connection or idea to help you achieve business success. At the very least, she can recommend a film to watch and a great local craft beer to drink.

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iOS 15 beta has blur nude photos opt-in, but its not without fault

(TECH NEWS) To protect children from explicit content, the most recent beta version of iOS 15 includes a feature that allows users to blur nude photos.

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Woman looking at Apple iPhone representing new iOS 15 beta that will blur nude photos.

In a move to protect children from explicit content, the most recent beta version of iOS 15 includes a feature that allows users to blur nude photos received in the Messages app. Amid privacy concerns, the feature has yet to be released.

The option to blur nude photos is opt-in, reports The Verge, and does not prevent users from choosing to view the photos in question even after being implemented.

This iteration of the feature is distinct from the original one insofar as it will no longer alert a parent or guardian when nude photos are encountered. While this may seem like a controversial change, several experts pointed out that exposing nude content on a child’s device in some households could result in abuse or, as Harvard Cyberlaw Clinic instructor Kendra Albert suggests, the outing of “queer or transgender children to their parents.”

With the most recent version of this feature enabled, children who receive inappropriate photos via the Messages app would be able to do two things: choose to avoid (or see) the content, and choose to send a report to a trusted adult if they see fit to do so.

Blurring photos is just one of several aspects of Apple’s Communication Safety suite, a feature that aims to prevent child sex abuse by making it easier for children to avoid and report predatory content.

 

Child on electronic device- iOS 15 beta that will allow blur nude photos should protect children.

Another feature that Apple has tested – but not released – is their Child Sex Abuse Imagery Detection (CSAM-detection), which scans and reports iCloud content that shows child pornography or abuse to Apple moderators for further review. As one can imagine, the feature drew mixed criticism, the majority of which came from privacy advocates.

While the vast majority of humanity can (hopefully) agree that fighting against child exploitation is a noble cause, these groups argue that scanning and reporting individuals’ personal photos via an algorithm opens the door to government interference and increased surveillance. Switching the algorithm’s baseline to scan for things like anti-government content, for example, would be easy, these groups posit, making the feature extremely dangerous in principle.

There is no current release date set for any of these aforementioned features, though iPhone users can reasonably expect them to drop at some point during iOS 15’s development.

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Amazon Music debuts synchronized text transcripts for popular podcasts

(TECH) The first feature to hit Amazon Music is auto-generated and synchronized text transcripts for their most popular podcast shows. Sign us up!

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Amazon Music Transcripts

Amazon set out to accelerate the growth and evolution of podcasts last year by acquiring the podcasting network, Wondery. Now, the company is doing just that with the launch of its auto-generated and synchronized podcast transcripts feature on Amazon Music.

According to an Amazon Music tweet, with this feature, you’ll be able to “Roll it back, jump ahead, and follow along” with the podcast you’re listening to. For instance, you can scrub through the transcript to find that line of text with that quote or movie and book suggestion you can’t quite remember. When you tap on a particular line of text in the transcript, you’ll be able to jump straight into that specific part of the podcast. I can already see all the time saved! But, if you just want to read along as you listen, you can do that, too. The transcript will match the audio as you’re hearing it.

Right now, the company is only rolling out podcast transcripts in the US on both iOS and Android devices. When it will expand to other countries isn’t known, and the feature isn’t available for all podcasts yet. For now, it is only available on a selection of popular podcasts like Smartless, Crime Junkie, This American Life, Uncommon Ground, and Modern Love, but more are coming.

Amazon Music Homescreen

To use it, all you have to do is open the podcasts tab on Amazon Music and select one of the podcasts you’d like to listen to. Of course, you’ll need to select a show with the podcast transcription feature to see it. When your show is playing, on the top of the album art and in fullscreen mode, the transcriptions will be available for you to read along to.

Oh, and if you’re worried about having to read through the ads, you have nothing to fret about. Ads won’t be transcribed. Instead, the transcription will read “audio not transcribed” when they are playing.

So far, Amazon seems to be going strong in the podcasting game with the release of podcast transcripts. The feature makes it easy to search and find what you are looking for in a show. And, for those on a long and noisy bus and subway ride, you’ll finally be able to read the information you previously couldn’t hear.

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Tech News

UX design: If you don’t have it, get yourself an audit made easy

(TECH NEWS) UX design is important. By conducting a simple audit to make sure your site is accessible, you can minimize the number of people that quickly go away.

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Two UX design people standing in front of a whiteboard with a UX map.

A good UX design is essential in attracting and retaining customers. A seamless and positive experience will keep customers happy and bring your business many benefits, like increasing audience engagement and sales.

But, how do you know if your user experience is in need of help, so people don’t bounce away quickly? Well, if UX is not your forte, the best thing to do is to hire a good UX designer. Unfortunately, sometimes hiring one isn’t always within the budget.

So, what do you do then? The next best thing is to conduct a UX audit of your website or app. Not sure where to begin? Fulcrum’s Do It Yourself UX Audit kit is one place to start.

According to the website, this DIY UX audit “can help you gain valuable insights about the usability of your product.” The tool detects problems in your UX, prioritizes them for you, and finds out how you can fix any existing issues.

The tool is made out of free easy-to-use Notion templates. These UX audit checklists are all customizable, and you can print them or save them on your Notion dashboard to use later.

Inside each template, there are cards with descriptions and examples. Depending on if you meet certain criteria or not, you drag and drop the card into the “Yes” or “No” column. When you’re finished, you will easily see what issues you have, and you can work on fixing them.

The templates are divided into Junior and Middle-level templates.

The Junior level has templates for things such as field and forms, login, mobile UX, and architecture. Most of these templates help make sure you cover your basic UX bases. For instance, it looks at whether your website is desktop and mobile-friendly, and if each element makes sense and is easily identifiable.

The Middle Level dives in a little deeper. The “Visibility of system status” audit checks if you are keeping your audience informed on what’s going on. Things like battery life, loading, or Wi-Fi connection indicators can make a huge difference. No one wants to stare at a screen with no clue if what they clicked on is working or not.

If you can afford it and want a UX virtuoso to do the work for you, you can get a UX audit from Fulcrum. The experts will conduct a full-fledged UX audit and create wireframes with solutions for your UX issues.

However, no matter how you go about it, a good UX design is important. Higher rate conversions and user retention won’t happen if your product is just pushing people away.

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