I remember the day I signed up for Twitter. I saw an MTV News speical saying that Twitter was already been hailed as the next Facebook, we know that not to be true now, but I wanted to be in early. I created my account and now over 11,000 tweets latter I have close to 500 followers and follow a similar number of people. When I signed up I wasn’t a developer, a designer or even really a “web geek”, but many of Twitter’s early users were. People loved the idea of being able to interface with data in a different way.
Twitter is one of the first web companies I ever was aware of to have an API. The Twitter API was and still is well written, well documented, and well designed. It’s arguable that Twitter’s success stem’s from having an API. From people using Twitter OAuth to make it easy to sign onto others sites or services, to other’s creating better way’s to use Twitter. These apps made it really easy and made it easy for new people that weren’t geeks to get on twitter. The API created a lot of success for them. Now their are hundendreds of Twitter mobile clients, almost any app has a “Sign In With Twitter” button, Apple has built it into both of their major platforms, iOS and Mountain Lion. People like Tapbots, Tweetdeck and Twitterrific have built successful businesses using the API. Where Twitter went wrong was not appealing more to these people. They saw the API as a byproduct not THE product. The bought the best apps, like Tweetdeck and Twitterific, they redesigned their Web apps both for Mobile and the desktop. They started figuring out how to pay for the party.
What they could have done and really should have done, was spent time looking into monetizing the API. All of these 3rd party apps have made billions of calls could have been charged even a small amount. Even if it was next to nothing, they could have at least made some money, a different kind of revenue, been a leader in the industry but now they are becoming an ad agency and to do os they may have to upset their core and most loyal users, Developer, Designers and Geeks.
Their is a new war happening on the web, the API Wars. Companies are now building services that have nothing more than API, that allow Developers to add their service as a feature in their apps. Companies like Stripe, and Twillo aren’t focused on the end users. They are targeting the people that build the apps. Instead of focusing on the whole problem of communication, Twillo has created a foundation, the core that any app needs. Stripe does the hard work for developers that need to collect payments from users, allowing the devloper to focus on the pain point. Who ever came up with this concept first is brillant.
Now their are companies out their like Mashape and Mashery, making it easy to find these API’s, work with them, and for the creators of these API’s to charge. Taking pages out of the books of Heroku and charging for great add on’s. Addtional piece’s of an API that not everyone needs but those who need are willing to pay for it and if they aren’t then they aren’t (and shouldn’t care).
So how can your startup start to be apart of this, do you have an API? Is your app built against your API? If you anwsered yes to the first question your heading in the right direction and if your building your app against that API your even more on your way. One of the greatest things Twitter has done from early on is their app is built against their API meaning if they want thier app to get better they have to refine, tweak and create new features in the API. Not all of these are going to be made public right away, if ever but no matter what the API won’t just be a side project that a small team is working on.
The person who got me started in Development 2 years ago said this and even at that time not even knowing what Ruby or Rails was, this concept made sense. Odviously not ever app is going to be a twillo or stripe but why not look at trying to profit from a byproduct of your development. 37signals wrote about this in, Rework. It’s a concept that really feels lost today. The open source movement is huge, bigger, clearer and easier than it’s ever been. Thanks largely to Github, anyone can get invoved in an Open Source project, yet were scared about “someone stealing our ideas”. Idea’s aren’t worth a dime it’s all in the execution. Look at Twitter, their mobile apps suck for power users. Poorly laid out, slow, not ideal for someone who’s on twitter constantly. Their API allowed Tapbots to recreate, and rethink what that experince is for a power user.
I’ve been using Sam Soffes new app, Cheddar, for the last few days trying it out and see if it can replace Hit List for me, but if I make the switch I’ll want to import all my data from my Hit List Library. I’m an edge case, Cheddar will likely never support that, but because Sam allows almost full access to the users data via the API, if I choose to make that move I can write a tool to do that. I also have had feature ideas that I’d love in the app but again, edge case things that would make work flow faster and better.
Twitter missed their chance to do something different to look at creating revenue in a different way. Don’t make the same mistakes Twitter made, look and see if you app has hidden value. Looking at your app this way may change your entire persepctive, change how you build future apps. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, just the rims they wheel sits on.
As a geek I tend over think a lot of things, including music. Recently I’ve been on One Republic kick. Started with hearing Good Life on the radio and now has evolved into watching AOL Sessions. While watching these sessions I realized how stupidly talented this band is.
When most 5 or 6 piece rock walk out on stage they play the same instrument for a number of hours, and walk off stage. One Republic, no they all sing, and jump all over the place depending on what’s need for that song. Only need one guitar for a track? Well then the other two play the cello and violin, while the guitar player and singer cover keys.
It’s been really cool to watch and listen as a lot of bands don’t translate well. Mostly pop bands. One Republic translated really well and where you’d expect a whistle to be done by a backing track they even did that. It’s that kinda of passion and care for craftmenship that the music industry has really been missing in the mainstream for sometime. It’s honestly refreshing.
I’m really unimpressed by this. Adobe tries very cool things. As a “labs” company they are awesome. I love typekit and am so happy for that crew but I can only hope adobe doesn’t just inject div’s and noise.
Gais. A simple town about 20 minutes for St.Gallen. It’s a quite peaceful village. I’ve grown to love this little place and have called it home for the past 7 weeks. When we came home from work on Thursday night it appeared that something was going to be happening our normally quite village, a fair perhaps?
It was Oktober Fest Gais. To be honest it has been one of my favorite things I’ve done in Switzerland. I drank, sang and danced until 2am just outside of the Falken, my home. It was awesome! The beer was amazing and came by the litre. I couldn’t communicate with the people much more than and a cheer and a clink of the glass but it was great. We spoke the world language of “Beer”.
If you ever plan on coming to Eupope come in Oktober and experience this tradition. I’m sure it runs deeper than my basic understanding but here is what Oktober Fest meant to me - Friends, Music, and Beer. Simple.
This seems like an obvious question, but I haven’t heard anyone ask it: will Amazon make a phone next?
My first reaction was maybe but after sleeping on it and giving it some thought I’ve come to the conclusion, No. Amazon is a content provider. They sell books, movies, tv shows, music and really anything else under the sun, but at their root they’ve always sold books. Selling an e-reader makes sense. It allows them to sell more books, easier and cheaper. For both them and the consumer.
I don’t think a phone would fit into that model at all. Yes they may trying to make a pivot into a technology company, but honestly sell a phone? I think that’s real stretch for them. It doesn’t really make sense, really the only reason they became a hosting company (which didn’t fit into their original business model), was they were looking to make money off their by-product. They needed to create a solid system in order to host Amazon. Someone said “hmm, we’ve invested time and money into this. Their must be other people who need cloud services. Let’s try and sell it” It worked. EC2 and S3 are 2 of the most widely used services across the web. I don’t see a phone becoming a byproduct or a kindle or the new amazon fire.
The past couple of days have been intense at ICON Worldwide. We had to prepare for a big proposal and I’ve been playing catchup with myself. I’ve been working on the same basic set of projects for the past 7 weeks. They need to be wrapped up by tomorrow for a few reasons. One - they need to ship. The world needs to see them. Two - a client is expecting one on Tuesday. Three. I’ve got a 5 weeks left and can’t believe that time has flown by so fast! It’s insane where time has gone.
I’ve really been trying to focus. Not have twitter on, avoid checking my RSS feeds, talking in the office. Just facing forward and writing code. Today I finial got into a groove of amazing productivity and really getting done and wanted to share how I got there.
One-I moved my desk. Ever time someone walks upstairs or around upstairs I can feel the ground shake(it’s a loft). It would cause me to turn around and see what’s going on. Since moving my desk back to where I was when I arrived I found myself looking around a lot less.
Two-I changed how I use dual screens. To be real I hate dual screens. Today I tired something I really liked. Stacked screens(as pictured below). I setup a simple 20” inch screen above my laptop. I put my browser on top and had coda on the bottom. I really enjoyed this setup. It was great even when I was doing Wordpress integration as I could compare code easily and with just a glance instead of having to move my whole head to different part of my desk. Somehow having this setup forced me to get things done. I had less open then in a long time. It was really great. I’m not sure how I’ll apply this to iOS development but it works for front-end development, better than the biggest screens I’ve ever worked off.
Three-I set goals and achieved those goals before moving on. When I got in this morning my mind was thinking about 4 different projects and the many tasks I had to do on them. I decided to focus on a handful instead of a fistful. I aimed to fix the major css issues, a portfolio, rebuild a LAMP server and start on a Nav. I achieved all of these things. I still have lots to do but it’s much more manageable and I feel good about the progress I got done.
Four-Not throwing time at the project. I did stay late. Latter than most people had. I left the office shortly before 10:00pm. I had planned to stay all night and throw sheer time at the project hoping to get more done. I knew I was fading and I was very tired. I decided to go home, get a good nights rest and then get back it late in the morning. If I work to hard at something for too long it will never work. By taking a brain shutting my brain down and just relaxing, when I go back to the same problem I had today, odds are it will be much more clear and I’ll achieve the result much quicker.
It’s really odd. Friday’s never have been productive for me, yet today it was nothing but productivity. I hope this continues for the next few weeks and carry it into my learning time and future jobs, what ever they maybe as well. It feels good and I’m excited about the morning but not as excited as going to sleep now.
This whole Amazon Fire has gone over much better than I think most people expected. They expected another sub par Android Tablet. What they got was a pretty good run a taking on and possibly creating an Android Market. The focus on this tablet seems to be entertainment. Reading books, watching tv and movies, and surfing the web (clearly that was high on the list). This is no iPad killer, it’s at best an iPad competitor.
What I think amazon has done best here is keep simple. Really this seems like a MVP (minmum viable product), it’s got the basics of what a tablet needs. It’s done those things very well (on paper at least, no one has one or has reviewed it). It seems Amazon wanted to play in the tablet game before it was too late. Smart. They aren’t shipping a crappy product or something sub par. They are shipping something that is basic, email, (take note RIM), a media player a browser and a way to read books. It doesn’t have a calendar or a way to take notes. It’s simple. They’ll ship something people will buy, listen to feedback, iterate, refine and ship an update or new tablet.
They’ve taken a solid OS, android 2.2, I do believe. Forked it and created there own OS. Some have called it Silk. The thing that really is Silk is that cool(potential, pain staking) new browser. To speed up the process they are going to have some of the rendering and calls done in Amazon’s Solid EC2. Again smart and really advanced technology(Google take note and give me this in chrome and Android.).
The only thing I can really hope for or feature request would be a better development environment. I’ve heard some stories of apps in the Amazon AppStore. You can’t force Amazon to set a price. I think it’s fine if you want to adjust the price but don’t make the developer suffer take the hit just like in retail.
All in all I’m excited to get my hands on one of these. Not sure if I’d purchase one as I do heavily believe Amazon is deep into the next version. They need to be in order to stay competitive. Really it just makes everyone better.
EDIT: As pointed out by @jglicksburg Not only does it look like Amazon is taking a stab at the iPad and tablet market but looking to take on iTunes. This is very true. With actually devices Amazon is now creating an ecosystem. It would make sense to buy your music from Amazon if you were using one of their devices. Only time will tell on this front.
When I heard what HP was doing with WebOS I was excited. As much as I love my iPhone and apple products having a product that competes is an awesome thing. It means both products (hopefully) get better. They are always trying to one up each other. Trying to be on top. The only real “Mac vs PC” like batter we’ve seen in the mobile market is that of Android vs. iPhone, but there isn’t a clear winner, unlike the PC and Mac world were PC still rules king. I really thought that HP would give both Google and Apple a run for their money, but again they had all the makings of a great OS but when it came to the hardware HP failed us and ultimately has failed its self. Now this post is not about what HP should have done, its about why I think what they are doing is an excellent move.
Although I’m sad for the future of WebOS whatever it may become, I’m excited to see such a major corporation realign it’s self in a major way. They are simplifying what they do. They are pulling a “37 Signals” approach. They are seeing major changes in the consumer market.
We all know HP was/is all over the map. Enterprise, consumer, printers, and mobile, but they have refined it down to just Enterprise. They will be able to build better servers (in theory), provide better software and service to those enterprises. Now odds are I will never work or be one of HP Enterprise’s customers, but one of the services I use might be. Maybe my hosting provider uses their servers. In directly I’m using HP hardware. If they are focusing to help them this should in theory make my experience better or not change which I’m ok with.
HP is not the only company to change focus. Apple has been doing this as well although not spending $10 billion dollars buying companies to do it, or being super vocal about it, but they are also making a ton of money compared to HP. They killed off the xserve as it wasn’t part of there vision. They are focusing. It means the users of those products should and are better at the end of the day.
It will be interesting to watch the future of HP over the coming months, I’m saddened to see WebOS get thrown under the bus, it really is sad to see something so cool die. It could still come back on an HTC (which would be cool, they make cool hardware) or Samsung, as they may be treated as second class citizens in the new Motorola/Google world.
Makes me want to stop screwing around, drill down and really focus because let’s be real these guys have access to all the same things I do. It’s really awesome to see what the next generation of talented web devs are doing now at as young as 14.
If there is anything I have learned in getting ready to travel to Switzerland for 3 months. DO NOT AND I REPEAT DO NOT EVER EVER EVER EVER LOSE YOUR PASSPORT! Awhile ago I misplaced my passport. I didn’t really think it was a big deal. I figured it would show up before I traveled next and all else failed I’d just get a new one reissued. Getting a new passport reissued in 10 days makes things interesting.
First you need to get a form, A Statuary Declaration, saying you lost your passport signed by a lawyer or a notary. Then refill out the passport form, which includes new photos. Take and then take said forms to the passport office. Now in most cases this is the end of the line. Not form me. You see my signature had evolved slightly in the 3 years since I got my drivers license and they wouldn’t allow that signature.
I then had to go to ICBC and get a new drivers license. That was easy enough, went back to the passport office and now as of August 8th I will have a passport once more, just days before I travel.
So much left to do, move all my stuff to my parent’s to store, replace my phone with an unlocked model, pack and get to the airport. As well I’m finishing off development on a series of PHP based calculators, an iPad app, a Website, starting work on the Eleet Systems brand, and a flash project. It’s a lot of work to do in just 2 weeks! It scares me to think that this time 2 weeks from now I’ll be a 10+ hour plane ride from my home.
Today I’m excited to say that in a few weeks I’ll be packing my bags and making the move to Switzerland to work with the highly talented team at Icon Worldwide, for 3 months. I couldn’t be more excited and scared all at the same time. I’ve only been across the pond once before, I was 9 years old.
It’s tough to be leaving an awesome community like Kelowna behind, but the chance to learn abroad I can’t turn it down. I’d like to thank everyone for your support and the lessons and skills you’ve taught me. While there you’ll be able to get updates from this blog and here. I can’t wait to get there. Stay tunned it’s going to be an awesome ride!
I’m a huge Thrice fan. In my opinion they are one of the only bands that has progressed along side of my music tastes. When I was high school all I listened to was heavy stuff, toward the end I got into indie music and now It’s a mixed bag. Thrice always blows me away with their records. I’ve recently been reading their posts on Tumblr, and watching them create their next record. It’s been really inspiring me to work on my music and build my studio. Read on after the jump to find out why.
Since high school I’ve been messing with recording. I think it all started when I got my first mac. I started messing with Garageband, and a Tascam USL22 which at the time I thought was amazing, looking back, what a piece of shit. Terrible pre’s but it got me understanding how signal flow worked. My Dad at the time had an SWR bass amp and I used to run everything into it at the time. I recorded a friends playing drums and again thought I was the shit.
I then took a bit of break until I moved out of my parents place and created something I called “Concrete Studios”. It was in the basement of place I was renting at the time. The house was made of concrete so the name just kinda stuck. As for a recording space it was big, but like I said concrete. The tones I got were echo’y and filled with reverb. I recorded an acoustic artist, Nate Liebel, a few time and Ian Larratt. When I did Ian’s debut “rap” track we had the control room setup in the laundry room, and tracked the vocals in the bathroom. What a bad idea, but it worked. Looking back at those tracks I kept them simple. I wish I had done more tracks, tracked to click, worked on sound proofing more but I never did.
Now I’ve got a more mixxing suite setup than anything. Two monitors, no external plugins, my interface now is Digi 003 Rack Plus. It’s a really great unit and I’m very happy with it. I really want to get into recording again and every time I listen to a band like Thrice or Circa Survive it makes me want to run out and get a bank loan and run out and build out my dream “home studio”. External plugins, mics, cables, stands, the works, but then I realize who would I record? How would I find bands? Would they find me? If I played guitar I might invest into but I play bass, drums, keys and sing. So for now I am going to continue to build out my racks and studio when I have spare coin, which is seeming like it happens less and less.
One day I will build our a brilliant studio, one day.
So summer is here, officially. It’s July 1st, for those in Canada that means its Canada Day. For me thats when my brain starts thinking about afternoons on the beach, reading on my porch, and enjoying the summer sunset with a great drink in my hand.
Every Friday is going to be my day that I write about great drinks. Today to start it off is beer. My too favourite summer beers are Red Stripe and Okanagan Springs 1516.
The 1516 is one of favourites year round, but as a summer beer it’s brilliant. Nice and light. If your in the okanagan most restaurants and pubs have it. To name a few Original Joe’s, Kelly O’s, Doc’s, Stuggeron Hall and many more.
Red Stripe is an import from Jamaica. It’s a lager so it doesn’t sit as nice as the 1516 on summer day, but if your having a BBQ this summer than I’d say have a case sitting in your cooler. It looks cool and people might try it based on the looks, but they won’t be disappointed.
Let me know what your favourite summer beer is or what you think of these two.
When I was a kid my mom used to do house work in bursts. We had all these little kitchen timers floating around the house and my mom and step dad would do 20 minutes of house work followed by 20 minutes of playing video games, watch TV, or using the computer. At the time I saw it as really dumb, why not do everything in one big swoop and have the rest of the day for enjoyment. Now that I’m older it makes a lot more sense.
One of my goals for my summer has been to increase my productivity. The Getting Things Done method doesn’t really work for me 100%. I like to divide my projects into larger bites, and just chew until a major portion is done. The problem is that I can end up working a single task for a long time, which leads me to get bored and then waste a lot of time. I’ve come up with a kinda of solution and been using at my job for the past few days and it works well.
I wanted to build a tool that would allow me to 1. Block distracting sites/activites and 2. Force me to be focused for a given time, but allow me to see how long I had left to be focused.
I have and continue to use Rescue time to track my work, the only issue with this I leave it running 24/7 and often forget to pause it when I take breaks or watch movies at home in the evening. This then runs my efficiency rating into the ground. Instead of being .30 it ends up being -0.37. I do like to see what my computer does during the week and the get focused tool is great, but there is no time left feature that I can see easily.
I found a nice light tool bar app, that I can set a countdown timer on. It’s really a simple app. The UI is a bit confusing, but it works. These two apps combined allow me to get focused for an hour or two what ever I choose. I put my headphones on, turn up my music and try and just focus on writing code or designing a screen for this time. I don’t check my email, get the phone or respond to twitter. It seems to work really well. The next thing I need to do is find a way to make simple tasks and be able to check them off and have them auto clear after a given time. I don’t want something that’s ten miles long or massive. Everything needs to live in my menu bar.
I’m hoping this summer to build my own light weight mac app that I can use to really get focused. Have the UI/UX the way I want it. Depending on time I might aim to put it in the mac app store, for Back to School, but I’m making no commitments to myself for the world yet. We will see what the future holds.
So the one thing I know better than most is music. I have a small home studio setup, love playing with tools like logic. I’m always looking for bands to record. I love recording acoustic artists the most.
Something I want to this summer is share some of my favourite music. My first playlist is entitled “Stuff Your Mom Won’t Like”. I have some heavier stuff from the likes of August Burns Red, Pop Punk from the boys in Set Your Goals, and much more. Jump past the break to see the full list.
Something I really want to focus on this summer is writing more. It’s something I love the idea of but really am no good at. I fail at it in three ways - 1) I always wonder if what I’m writing is going to add value to anyone’s life. 2) If I take the time to write something with meaning is anyone going to take the time read my thoughts. 3) I kind of suck at it. My grammar and spelling are really, and I mean REALLY bad.
I mentioned this to my boss at work this morning, and she said it in a way that no one ever has before. Do it because you want to. If your ideas, or thoughts hold any merit then people will pay attention.
So starting July 1st I’m going to write a blog everyday until August 31st. I’m going to try and have some structure to what I write on each day. One day being set aside for what I’m doing in my life/work, a review of a service or app, a day to share links of things I read or enjoyed during the week, and other things mixed in.
So why start July 1st and not now? Well I want to write some of the longer articles in advanced. Have them cued up and ready. Some of the things I want to share like links I can’t pre write but what I can do is write some of the reviews.
So come along for this ride where I hope you can share in my thoughts and little tidbits of…I’d say awesome but I’m not sure what they will be yet.
Building a New Site with Little to No Photoshop Time
A new client recently approached me about building a new site for them. I had just come off a period where I’d felt that a lot of my work wasn’t original or something that I’d spent a lot of time learning or growing with. I’ve really being digging deep into what I want to do and one of those things is focus on Front End Dev and less on the design side. I’m not a the point in my career yet where I can pick and choose my clients so for this project I’d have to do everything including the design. I decided to approach to the project differently than I would normally.