Archive for the ‘Releases’ Category

Before you buy – search!

July 29, 2006

Let’s say you’re out shopping, and a copy of “The Da Vinci” catches your eye. You’re all set to buy it, but then you realize, “this is ridiculous. One of my friends must already have a copy.”

So you pull out your cell phone and send us the text message: “item search da vinci”. We respond and let you know that both Brian and Mary have a copy. Amazing! BillMonk just saved you fifteen bucks.

In addition to searching the community library via mobile phone, you can also add items to your collection while on the go, using the ISBN or UPC code.

The message formats are:

item search <title or author>

item add <ISBN or UPC>

We’re pretty flexible. For searching, “library search”, “find item”, “lib find” all work equally well; learn more.

As always, whatever you can do on your phone, you can also do via email.


Library – CueCat scanner, UI fixes, similiar items

July 25, 2006

We’re happy to start this week with a bucket ‘o improvements to the BillMonk library.

Dig that “misc computer stuff” box out of the attic and find the :CueCat (c) scanner that you grabbed from RadioShack back in 1998. Plug ‘er in, go to the “Bulk Add” page (from the Library), and happily scan in stacks of books for your collection – we translate its wacky output to ISBN and UPC codes.

We also made some UI fixes:

  • When you pick which items to add, we tell you which ones are already in your collection
  • Rather than having to aim your mouse at teensy checkboxes to pick which items to add or check-out, you can now click anywhere on a line

Finally, we plugged Amazon recommendations into the “Add” pipeline, making it super-easy to say “hey, I own that, too!”

Date formats

July 19, 2006

Dear World,

We apologize for being so US-centric and using Month-Day-Year everywhere on the site. It is a bit archaic and doesn’t make much sense to the rest of you. So, we now let you pick Day-Month-Year (account preference).

Please stop sending angry letters starting like: “the REST of the world, which does things in a reasonable fashion…” and which continue to point out that, given that humans have ten digits, the kilometer makes more sense than than the mile, milk shouldn’t come in quarts, &c. Whatever.

With love,

The BillMonks

ps. Time zones are coming soon, but will make more sense once you can report things with hour-level granularity. Gotta say, we’re not loving all the wacky regional exceptions to daylight savings.

Bigger Library – 500 items

July 17, 2006

While the BillMonk Library feature was new, we limited its size to 99 things. Now that we’ve given it time to iron out wrinkles, we’re happy to say that we’re raising the limit to 500 items, and will no longer call it “beta”.

Makeover cont’d, Calendar

July 1, 2006

You liked the new site design, but you didn’t like the purple, and some of you simply prefer your sidebars on the right. Not a problem! Links are now blue, and you can control where the sidebar goes (Your Account preference). Thanks to everyone for their feedback.

Since we were in the revising-things mindset, we also went ahead and added a calendar widget, which the site had been sorely lacking.


Site Makeover

June 29, 2006

We gave the site a much-needed makeover, both to make it more aesthetically appealing as well as more functional. It sets the UI groundwork for a forthcoming wave of features by giving us a roomy right sidebar area for contextual controls and help.

While there are several dozen minor changes, the most immediately apparent are:

  • Sidebar is now on the right, and wider
  • The common starting money and library tasks are merged into one “Report” box
  • The site font is bigger
  • Links are purple, not green
  • “Your Account” tab is replaced by an “Account” link next to your name

Here’s a sketch of the kind of thinking that goes into such a redesign. It should be pointed out that this is Chuck’s best possible handwriting. His high school history teacher once remarked that “my german shephard has better penmanship than Chuck.”


Share your library on MySpace, your blog, anywhere

May 18, 2006

You can now make your BillMonk library public for anyone to see. We give you:

  • A URL to your public library page, which anyone can use to view your collection
  • A badge showing a random sampling of your things. We give you the HTML code you need to paste into your MySpace page, blog, or website. We take care of periodically refreshing your badge.

To make your library public, just log in, click on the "library" tab, and then click on "show to everyone".

We hope you enjoy this new way of letting your friends know more about your interests! Check out BillMonk's MySpace page to see it in action.


Polishing up the ‘ol library

May 4, 2006

Things are going swimmingly with the new library. We crossed the 1000 item mark in no time at all, and there's a whole lot of sharing going on.

Several of you wrote in with great ideas. With this feedback in mind, we have spiffed up the library:

  • You now control whether or not checking out/in an item should email the other person
  • You can add comments to checked-out items, e.g. "it's in the mail"
  • There is a now a default preference "share my library with all friends" that includes any new friends who come along (see Library: Share with Friends)

Library search

April 27, 2006

We’re pleased to say that there is now a search box to the library page. This makes it easy to find if someone has a copy of the “Da Vinci Code” you can borrow, or where all your “Miyazaki DVD” movies are.

BillMonk Library – beta

April 14, 2006

I owe you $20.53… and I’m borrowing discs 1 and 2 of “Invader Zim.”

We’re proud to introduce a whole new side to BillMonk: the lending library. Skip the headache of remembering who has your stuff and which stuff you’re borrowing. Just sign in, click on “check-out,” and tell us the thing you’re lending and to whom. When you look to see where you stand with your friends, checked-out stuff shows up along with monetary debts.

As your stuff is checked-out and returned, your personal collection grows. What makes the library so powerful is that people can choose to share their collections with friends. Want to read a new book, play a different video game, or watch a movie? Browse your friends’ stuff! People who know each other form ad-hoc community lending libraries.

Adding items to your library is easy. You can either search for it in’s catalog or you can describe it yourself. The nice thing about adding items via Amazon is that you get lots of additional information like CD track listings, a product description, and more.

What if something is lost or never returned? No problem, you can sell it as a BillMonk debt!

When we first launched BillMonk, our goal was make borrowing and lending money between friends easy. But we realized, why stop at money? BillMonk’s goal should be to make all borrowing between friends easy. For this reason, we now offer two closely related features, BillMonk Money and BillMonk Library, together on the BillMonk site.

The BillMonk Library has been a fairly covert operation since it so radically changes the look and purpose of BillMonk. It also required a bit more work and caffeine than we anticipated, but we’re well pleased with the results.

That said, the library is new and very much in beta. We will continue to hammer it into shape in the weeks to come. Some of the additional features we are considering include:

  • Product search
  • Post comment about your stuff
  • Cell phone SMS library interface
    • Check-out and add items on the go
    • About to buy something? Search to see if a friend already has it
  • Item picture upload

As always, we prioritize based on your feedback. It’s great when you tell us what you need – in fact, the reason the library happened is that so many of you asked for it.

The BillMonk Library does not diminish the importance of BillMonk Money. Of all our tasks, the #1 priority is providing online payments.

So without further delay, head over to, enjoy the new scenery on the front page, and take the tour to learn about what’s new!