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.
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.
Get all your digital organization in one place with Routine
(TECH NEWS) Routine makes note-taking and task-creating a lot easier by merging all your common processes into one productivity tool.
Your inbox can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. Without organization, important emails with tasks, notes, and meetings can become a trash pile pretty quickly. Luckily, there are a lot of tools that aim to help you improve your efficiency, and the latest to add to that list is Routine.
Routine is a productivity app that combines your tasks, notes, and calendar into one easy-to-use app so you can increase your performance. Instead of having to switch between different apps to jot down important information, create to-do lists, and glance at your calendar, Routine marries them all into one cool productivity tool. By simply using a keyboard shortcut, you can do all these things.
If you receive an email that contains an actionable item, you can convert that email into a task you can view later. Tasks are all saved in your inbox, and you can even schedule a task for a specific day. So, if Obi-Wan wants to have Jedi lessons on Thursday, you can schedule your Force task for that day. Likewise, chat messages that need follow-up can also be converted into tasks and be scheduled.
To enrich your tasks, notes can be attached to them. In your notes, you can also embed checkboxes, which are tasks of their own. And if you have tasks that aren’t coming from your inbox, you can import them from other services, such as Gmail, Notion, and Trello.
To make sure you can stay focused on the events and tasks at hand, Routine makes it easy to take everything in. By using the tool’s keyboard-controlled console, you can access your dashboard to quickly see what tasks need to be addressed, what’s on your calendar, and even join an upcoming Zoom session and take notes about the meeting.
Routine is available for macOS, iOS, web, and Google accounts only. Overall, the app centralizes notes and tasks by letting you create and view everything in one place, which helps make sure you stay on top of things. Currently, Routine is still in beta, but you can get on a waitlist to test the product out for yourself.
The paradox of CAPTCHAs: Too smart for humans vs AI?
(TECH NEWS) AI is catching up to our cybersecurity technology and often tricking humans too — so what’s next for CAPTCHAs and the internet?
We’ve all encountered it before: The occasional robot test that feels impossible to beat. If you’ve felt like these tests, also known as CAPTCHAs, have gotten harder in the last couple of years, you aren’t wrong—and the reason is as ironic as it is baffling.
Simply put, AI are just as good as—and often better than—humans at completing CAPTCHAs in their classic format. As machine learning and AI become more advanced, the fundamental human attributes that make consistent CAPTCHA formats possible become less impactful, raising the question of how to determine the difference between AI and humans in the future.
The biggest barrier to universal CAPTCHA doctrine is purely cultural. Humans may share experiences across the board, but such experiences are typically basic enough to fall victim to the same machine learning which has rendered lower-level CAPTCHAs moot. Adding a cultural component to CAPTCHAs could prevent AI from bypassing them, but it also might prevent some humans from understanding the objective.
Therein lies the root of the CAPTCHA paradox. Humans are far more diverse than any one test can possibly account for, and what they do have in common is also shared by—you guessed it—AI. To create a truly AI-proof test would be to alienate a notable portion of human users by virtue of lived experience. The irony is palpable, but one can only imagine the sheer frustration developers are going through in attempting to address this problem.
But all isn’t lost. While litmus tests such as determining the number of traffic cones in a plaza or checking off squares with bicycles (but not unicycles, you fool) may be beatable by machines, some experts posit that “human entropy” is almost impossible to mimic—and, thus, a viable solution to the CAPTCHA paradox.
“A real human being doesn’t have very good control over their own motor functions, and so they can’t move the mouse the same way more than once over multiple interactions,” says Shuman Ghosemajumder, a former click fraud expert from Google. While AI could attempt to feign this same level of “entropy”, the odds of a successful attempt appear low.
Move over, Clubhouse: Slack adds their own audio chat rooms
(TECH NEWS) Slack planning to co-opt Clubhouse’s synchronous audio rooms has lead to mixed response. Did it really need to be done?
Slack is adding a synchronous audio chat room feature similar to what Clubhouse already has. While not everyone is happy about it, the addition is true to Slack’s ongoing form—if a little redundant.
Slack’s audio rooms would work similarly to Clubhouse’s current feature of the same persuasion. The rooms themselves would be ongoing for as long as they were open, and users would be able to drop in and out of calls at their leisure, even joining the conversation when permitted by the host or settings. In theory, it’s a cool way to round out Slack’s platform and make for yet another way for people to engage during the work day.
But not everyone is stoked about the addition. Pocketnow’s Nadeem Sarwar makes a strong point about the redundancy of adding a Clubhouse feature to the already-packed Slack deck: “…from a regular remote worker’s perspective, I’d rather use services such as Telegram, Discord, or Google Meet that we’ve grown accustomed to using for jumping into a group call with my teammates.”
“…[T]he need for audio chatrooms to get in a chaotic chat with colleagues, with whom you already chat over work and share memes five days a week, doesn’t make much sense,” he adds.
Sarwar also references research about remote meeting fatigue from Stanford and The Washington Post, positing that—since video conferences are already played out at this point—adding another quasi-conference option to Slack doesn’t serve much of a purpose.
He isn’t wrong. There are multitudinous conference options on the market now, many of which are free. One could argue that Slack, having marketed itself as a text-first communication hub, has no business entering the audio chat landscape.
That argument falls on its face when you consider Slack’s model—something both Sawar and the Slack CEO himself mention—involves “stealing” and implementing “good ideas” from others in order to make their own platform as comprehensive as possible. If one is able to use Slack for the majority of tasks that Google, Discord, and Clubhouse offer, that makes the platform a lot more attractive to users who are on the fence.
And, perhaps more importantly, it ensures that current users won’t migrate to a comparable platform in the future—especially if their colleagues are making the same choice.
It’s a smart move for Slack, especially given Clubhouse’s lack of Android support at this time—something Clubhouse has said probably still won’t launch for a couple of months.
The Clubhouse team, for their part, continues to add new features in efforts to maintain the platform’s upward mobility. One such feature is the option for paid subscriptions to content creators, allowing for people to monetize their presence on the platform. At the time of this writing, Clubhouse is valued at around $1 billion.
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