What in the world is happening?

I suppose could dazzle you with some technobabble about realigning the flux capacitors, but that’s not my style.1 I took down the calculators this past weekend so I could perform some long-overdue upgrades and updates to the entire site.

You know when you take something apart, then put it back together again, and then you’ve got a pile of extra parts and then you have some ‘splainin’ to do? Yeah, this is pretty much exactly that.

I was hoping to have the calculators back online before 2AM on 8/31/2021, but now that the minute hand has started another revolution, this is clearly not happening.

When are they going to be back online? Soon – maybe tonight. But, I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up.

In the meantime, feel free to send me some words of encouragement or let me know what you think about the new layout. If you do send me an email, I’ll let you know as soon as everything’s ready to start cruising at 88 MPH again.

  1. Well, actually now that I think about it, this really is pretty on-brand for me. []

Easy-to-make iPhone
Easy-to-make iPhone

A company once told me someone had offered to build permanent disability calculators for their website in three months for $7,500.  One said six months and $20,000.  Recently, another suggested it would take them a year and $40,000.  My response is usually some variation on “You’ve got to take that deal.  You’re wasting your time talking to me.”

It’s no big secret that building a great product takes a lot of work.  The important thing to remember is that just because something is easy-to-use, that doesn’t mean its easy-to-make. 1

Real iPhone
Difficult-to-make iPhone

Let’s take the iPhone for example.  Everyone will concede its an easy phone to use.  However, it was released more than two years ago on 6/29/2007. 2  In that time the other players – BlackBerry, LG, Nokia, and Palm have all been trying to catch up.  If this easy-to-use phone were easy-to-build everyone would have their own version.

Look, there’s no special magic to building a website like this.  Really, anyone can do it.  All you have to do is learn the calculations inside-and-out, deconstruct the math involved in the various calculations, learn some client and server side programming languages, learn a content management system, make it all work together, keep current on changes in the law, start all over again each time the law changes, and earn the respect of the workers’ compensation community.  Once done, you’ll have your very own workers’ compensation calculator website!

To return to the lesson of the iPhone, building a touch screen phone that can play music and surf the web is totally doable.  Doing it right is another matter entirely.

  1. Visit the link for a PDF of a cut-and-fold iPhone.  Thanks Gizmodo! []
  2. Wikipedia link. []

Dont worry, its not your fault
Don't worry, its not your fault

Yesterday I received an e-mail from a beta tester, Jeff Duarte, who was having trouble with one of my calculators.  He said that he didn’t really understand how to use a particular calculator.  My response was:

The problem is not you, its me.  :)  If I designed my calculator better you wouldn’t have any questions.

Seriously – sorry Jeff, its my bad.  My goal is to make these calculators so easy and intuitive to use that no workers’ compensation professional would have any trouble figuring out how to use them.  If you don’t figure out how to use it just by looking at it, I designed it wrong1 Getting feedback is a very important and instructive process for me.  It lets me figure out what works for people and what doesn’t.

The good news is that Jeff”s suggestions have given me an idea on how to make two calculators easier to use and for two entirely new features!

So, send me an e-mail if you have an idea on how I can make a calculator more intuitive, easier to use, or just plain work better!

The problem is not you, its me.  :)  If I designed my calculator better you wouldn’t have any questions!
  1. Photo courtesy of TreMichLan.  Terrible pun – all me! []

Theres nothing silly about Verify!(R)
There's nothing silly about Verify!®

A few weeks ago I launched a Social Security Number verification tool powered by Verify!®.  Since its launch its become a very popular tool.  One of the coolest things about having these calculators is finding out all of the new ways people think of to use them.  These new and unintended uses are almost always far more interesting than the original pedestrian reasons for which a tool was created.

Take Silly Putty for instance.  Silly Putty was originally created as a potential replacement for rubber during World War II.  It didn’t work as a replacement for rubber, scientists were unable to think of a use for it, and it sat in a lab for years before a toy store owner began stuffing it in plastic eggs.1

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Use it to determine whether someone is a U.S. citizen.
  2. Use it to double-check someone’s year of birth.
  3. Use it to determine approximately when someone became a U.S. citizen.2
  4. Use it to determine whether someone is potentially Medicare eligible.3

What other uses can you think of?

  1. Photo courtesy of unloveablesteve []
  2. I thought of this one during a deposition last week when a deponent couldn’t recall when they first came to the United States.  I just fired up the cell phone web browser, went to the calculator page, and asked the follow up question. []
  3. Thanks Chris! []

Happy Birthday PDRater!
Happy Birthday PDRater!

I’ve been so busy lately I completely forgot to mention PDRater’s second birthday!1

This site was launched on July 23, 2007.  For both of you who were using it back then, you remember it was an ugly ugly baby.

I’ve really enjoyed working on this website for the last two years.  I use the word “work,” but I don’t really mean it.  Building calculators, creating charts, and unraveling the mysteries of Ogilvie are my hobbies too.  :)

What would you like to see from this website in the coming year?  Please let me know in the comments or send me an e-mail.  I already have several (more) new calculators in the pipeline, but I’m always open to ideas.

  1. Photo courtesy of rmansoorian []