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What I MakeUseOf: Interviewing Roee Adler, Chief Product Officer At Soluto

Erez Zukerman 12-03-2013

what is solutoTools are awesome – if you read MakeUseOf, you probably agree. But the latest isn’t always the greatest – rather, the greatest is whatever helps you get the job done, saves time, and just plain works. One good way to find those excellent tools is to see what an actual person uses in their daily life to get stuff done. Read on for a frank, detailed, and quite nerdy interview (with a computer museum inside).

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Who Are You & What Do You Do?

what is soluto

My name is Roee Adler, soon to be 34 years old. I’m married to Avital, a brain scientist, and have two daughters: Gali (2 years old) and Maayan (6 months old).

I was born to a family of carpenters in Netanya, Israel. To the disappointment of my parents I abandoned my calling and started writing code when I was about 11, and joined the thriving European Demoscene of the mid 90s. I went through several startups while gradually transitioning from a software developer to a product manager. Today I’m the chief product guy at Soluto – we’re a startup company building a PC management service that I think is really awesome. (Ed. note: We reviewed Soluto Be A Super-Geek With Soluto's New Version: An In-Depth Look [& Invites] Let’s face it, if you are reading this, you’re a geek. People come to you for tech help, whether you like it or not. It could be family, friends, or maybe your significant other. Whether... Read More previously.)

Most of my day is spent together with our product managers and developers, analyzing what people like about our service and what they don’t, and thinking how we can build more cool stuff to make our service better. It’s a fairly simple algorithm: 1) look at data; 2) draw conclusions; and 3) make stuff happen accordingly. But within this simple algorithm lie entire hierarchies of engineering complexities (how can so much data be easily queryable), analytical Sisyphean labor (so much data to look at, so challenging to draw intelligent unbiased conclusions) and of course – creativity (so we know this and that, what’s the best thing we could do now?)

In many aspects I feel it’s my dream job. In other aspects I need more sleep hours.

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As You Go Through a Typical Day, What Hardware Do You Use & When?

I actually just made a switch from a 13″ MacBook Pro running Windows 8 to an Asus Zenbook UX32VD. And I’m so happy. This calls for a short background. Part of every product manager’s work is to understand how different people think, imagine what they would love or hate, and develop intuitions about how they are likely to react in various situations. Because of this reason, I’m a big believer in trying different things myself. If something’s very popular within a demographic that overlaps with our audience, I try to experience it myself. Think about it as a grown up who watches Phineas and Ferb to better understand what modern kids like (which I do, and it’s a brilliant show).

So even though I’m a PC guy from birth, as we continued to plan our Mac product (still work in progress), I knew I had to “become a Mac guy,” and really live and breath working on a Mac. It was very frightening at first, but I got used to with time. Still, 6 months into using Mac OS on my main machine, I found myself much less productive, especially due to my extensive work on PowerPoint and Word (for which the Mac versions suck). There were smaller things I had hard time with (e.g. no way to switch between open windows like alt-tab, no easy way to fully maximize a screen, no Del key), but the Office thing was most critical for me. So I gave up and installed Windows on that Mac.

It’s common knowledge that Apple make superior hardware. A Mac running Windows has lots of advantages, most prominent is the amazing trackpad. I find it absolutely crazy that no PC manufacturer has yet to ship a trackpad that’s nearly as good as the Mac’s. Alas, there are many disadvantages to running Windows on Mac. There are driver issues, you need to memorize key combinations to achieve basic PC functionality (Del, Insert, PgDn, etc.) and even those stop working at times. So after a bunch of malfunctions I decided to get myself a brand new PC. A bit of research led me to choose the Asus Zenbook UX32VD. It’s a beast. Intel Code i7, 500GB of HD plus 24GB of SSD for the OS, 6GB of RAM and a dual graphic card (Intel+NVidia), and it’s thin, light and beautiful. Since it’s reasonably priced for that horsepower, I also decided to buy the same machine for my wife (who uses Matlab as her main software, and the UX32VD goes through it like butter).

But enough about my main work machine.

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When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is reach with my hand towards my iPhone 4S and start going over email. At Soluto we have a bunch of reports automatically calculated around 3-5am, so that when people wake up they can go over the micro details of what happened yesterday. So I start by skimming through around 30 detailed reports on my iPhone. I naturally also go through “normal” mail to see if there’s anything super important.

Beyond my iPhone and main PC, I also carry around a Windows tablet. I’m glad to be the owner of a Samsung 700T that I received at Microsoft’s Build conference in late 2011, where they gave all the devs in the audience a superb tablet running the first developer preview of Windows 8. It has 64GB of SSD, a USB port and 3G. Awesome device for its age. I use it whenever I need to give a demo of our service to anyone, because demoing on a Windows tablet looks awesome. As a main machine it’s less useful for me though.

At Soluto I have an office, but spend most of my day sitting in the open space with the rest of the team. Here’s my desk:

soluto information

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As a PC geek who suffers from compulsive collectionism (I just made this disorder up), I surrounded myself in the past years with my very own PC museum, featuring great specimens like the ZX Spectrum, an early Apple PowerBook, a huge Tandy laptop, Commodore, and lots more. Most of them don’t work, and were quite cheap to get on eBay, but for some odd reason I find myself inspired when surrounded by these old relics from times long gone.

soluto information

At home I have an iPad – I’m one of the suckers who got the 3rd gen. I love it. I use it mostly for watching movies and TV episodes (using AVPlayerHD), and for light email.

What Software Tools Couldn’t You Live Without?

There are definitely software tools I’m addicted to. A brief look at my pinned apps in the Windows task bar reveals most of them..

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what is soluto

How I consume news – in my line of work it’s important to stay updated about the news. In the past years I’ve been through various modes of getting updated about stuff: there was RSS, I used to manually browse to a bunch of online magazines, I even tried Flipboard. With time, converged into using two tools. One is listening to the Tech News Today podcast on my iPhone, during my commute to work. I listen to it almost every day, the TNT team does a superb work in summarizing yesterday’s tech news. Great joy.

The other is Twitter How to Use Twitter Twitter can be overwhelming at first, but we're here to help you make sense of it. Here's a complete guide to using Twitter and understanding how it works. Read More . I use Twitter in a way that makes my news consumption very efficient. I target a bunch of key reporters and influencers and have them grouped together in a private list. I then check this list a couple of times a day. The advantage of this method is that you get a direct brain-digest from some of the smartest people on the planet, and no one knows anything of the fact you’re consuming news like that (or who you chose to put on the list vs. who you didn’t).

Anything Else You’d Like To Add?

One of my favorite quotes is by Homer Jay Simpson – “trying is the first step towards failure”, from the Simpsons episode Realty Bites (I even used this quote in a recent commencement speech I gave at the IDC Herzliya). Beyond being funny (at least IMHO), this sentence does bear strong resemblance to the lean startup mantra “fail fast”. To be philosophical for a second, I do believe people should be constantly trying out different things, knowing that many will not bear fruit. One can take this attitude to many different areas in life. I try to experience every new service or product out there. Learning from the successes and failures of others has made me a more complete person. I recommend that you try it too.

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  1. GuyMcDowell
    March 14, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    Roee, I'm relieved to see that I'm not the only tech guy that uses Notepad in that exact same fashion.

    Each Windows program seems to have it's own way to do paste without formatting. I'd rather 'Ctrl+C, Win+R, “notepad”, Ctrl+V, Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C, go to my destination, Ctrl+V' dance, because I know exactly what I'll be getting.

    • Roee Adler
      March 14, 2013 at 8:29 pm

      Good to know I'm not the only crazy one :) Lisa's suggestion (PureText) seems to solve this exact problem, but for some reason I wasn't able to install it properly.

  2. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    March 13, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Seems like this guy needs PureText. Anyone can tell him about this?

    • erez
      March 13, 2013 at 3:49 pm

      He might be reading the comments even as we speak. ;)

    • Roee Adler
      March 13, 2013 at 7:34 pm

      I promise to check it out :)

  3. Scott M
    March 13, 2013 at 10:18 am

    Soluto has been a great help for my computer and at a $1 a month the price is great.

  4. Nevzat Akkaya
    March 13, 2013 at 10:00 am

    Soluto became a very powerful tool with the recent versions. I liked their online interface so much. You must certainly try it to find a slow booting Windows PC.

  5. Humza Aamir
    March 13, 2013 at 3:09 am

    Soluto really is a brilliant app. GUI is great, support is great and has actually helped my computer with better boot times :)

  6. James Hudson
    March 12, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    i find that outlook is to big a slow on my laptop so i use postbox.