Jun 17 2011

The PC to Mac Switch

I bought a Mac (used) a few weeks ago to use for work because developing anything but asp.net on Windows is a train wreck and my Linux desktop computer is really slow and shitty. I needed a Macbook Pro so I bought a used one off a friend. Last week was my first week using a Mac full-time since the late 90s, so I thought I’d share my thoughts.

First, and most importantly, I find the Mac experience to be equal to the Windows experience. Some things are better, some are worse. They are different, but equal. I have found the same to be true after switching to an Android phone after using an iPhone for 2+ years.

Things that I like:

  • The keyboard glows.
  • The multi-touch touchpad is pretty slick, although I much prefer a mouse (with 2 buttons).
  • The magnetic power plug is brilliant.
  • Obviously, for development, it’s great. This alone is why I own a Mactop.
  • Exposé is great for switching between windows.
  • Navigating through things with just the keyboard is much better.
  • Great battery life and it’s smaller and lighter than my comparable Windows laptop.

Things that annoy the crap out of me:

  • A standard installation of the Mac OS does not include the ability to maximize windows in any program. Overall, window management/arrangement/sizing sucks.
  • CTRL + ENTER in Chrome doesn’t do what it does in Windows.
  • Every program’s menu bar being the same thing. This is more annoying when using multiple monitors, but maybe it’s something I need to get used to.
  • I HATE how Photoshop has no minimize button and there is no Photoshop “desktop.” This infuriates me and is a terrible user experience.
  • Chrome won’t reopen my previously open tabs on startup for some reason.
  • I can’t cut and paste files in Finder.
  • I can’t open Finder with a keyboard shortcut like I can Windows Explorer (Windows + E).
  • It only has 2 USB ports (but at least they work).

Hopefully some of these annoying things go away over time!

Jan 30 2011

Start Atlanta Wrap Up

This weekend I went to StartAtlanta 2011 and participated in starting a new company. The premise is that you join a team and start a company Friday night and hopefully have something to launch and demo by Sunday night. Since Rocket Whale is already building my idea for a startup that you can feasibly launch in a weekend (Use the List), I went with the intention of participating on another team. And participate I did!

Our team was centered around the idea of one-question surveys. Everyone hates getting a link to a 10+ question survey. But send them one question with a choice of answers and they’ll likely answer. Overall I think our team did a pretty good job. I was a bit disappointed that we didn’t get further and actually have a usable application up and running for the demo, but we got very close and I’m confident that the crew will have something working within a week or two. I did the design and HTML/CSS for the app and “threw it over the wall” to the developer guys to code up. You can see my design and sign up to be notified when the site goes live at the web site: http://ask1question.com. I look forward to seeing where it all goes!

Here’s a rundown of some of my favorite ideas (most of these have completely different designs that I imagine will be unveiled on their live sites soon):

  • TripLingo was the crowd favorite of all of the participants. They had a slick site design and got very far along, including a web app and a mobile app. Cool idea whose value was much more evident once the app was demoed.
  • Connect Me is a facebook dating/matchmaking app that has the same fun feel of hotornot.com. The app shows you pictures of 2 friends and you decide whether or not you think they’d be a good match. If you do, the app sends them both some type of introduction. I’m looking forward to seeing it live!
  • Reach Me Later is a fantastic idea that I found myself wanting during my drive home. Right now, it’s targeted towards teens and parents as it was inspired by the death of a teen who was texting while driving. It’s a mobile app that basically shuts your phone’s texting off and auto-replies with a message that says, “I’m driving, I’ll respond later.” Parents get a text when their kid turns the service on and there are analytics built in so parents can see if their kids are using it and if they’re texting while driving. If I had a bunch of money I would try to invest in them now!
  • Minglle had some technical difficulties during their demo and it didn’t really work, but the idea was interesting. Plus it was presented by a live, human version of Bill Gates’ mug shot. It’s a mobile app where you can say where you are and who you want to meet. If there are any matches at your location, the service sends you both a message to see if you actually want to meet. If you do, you can chat over their service to actually meet up. Sounds creepy for social events but would be a great app for networking.
  • Last, I want to give a shout-out to Karol’s team: Mark it 8 Dude. They were making a bowling app where you can take a picture of your score with your phone and it automatically tracks your scores (and how well you do vs. how many beers you’ve had). Karol got a big reaction from the crowd when he demoed his OCR (Optical Character Recognition) so congratulations to him!

I want to say thanks to the team at StartAtlanta for organizing everything. The food selection was awesome and the entire event was run very smoothly. I honestly can’t think of any big issues, so kudos to Jason Ardell and the rest of the StartAtlanta team. And also to ATDC for hosting it!

I think my only real disappointment was that it took so long for our developers to get on the same page and environment so that they could actually start writing code (Saturday evening). I think it was a factor of us having a larger team with guys from all different backgrounds (asp.net, django/python, ruby/rails, windows/mac/linux, etc.). Our team was probably too big and we would’ve done much better with 2-3 developers all in sync rather than the 6-7 that we had. We were also too ambitious with our use of HAML/SCSS, as not everyone knew it and it made the conversion of my static HTML/CSS to dynamic content even more intensive. Maybe next year the StartAtlanta organizers can figure out a way for team leaders to choose their technologies and for developers to be organized by similar skills.

Even with the difficulties, I’m proud of what we accomplished (and what I accomplished) and I know that given another couple hours to tighten things up, we would’ve been in contention for the crowd favorite!

Final thanks go to the One Question team, especially Jon for the One Question idea and to Sean for his plethora of design help!

Dec 2 2010

Follow the Startup, Attempt 3

You may recall my first attempt to blog about what I was doing on a daily basis (relating to starting Rocket Whale) failed miserably. In fact you probably don’t even remember the first attempt because it was so short. You can even scroll down to read about the changes I was making for my second attempt at follow the startup. Well, we’re at our third and probably not final attempt. I’m switching my Rocket Whale tweets over to the official Rocket Whale Twitter Account and I’m even going to retweet (man I hate saying “tweet”) everything to get us up to date. I’m sure a company blog will come at some point but I’m gonna go ahead and decide that it’s more important that we start making something so we have a product to talk about. Oh, and in case you’re wondering why I’m doing this, it’s because twitter doesn’t track search history past a week or so. That means if you search on twitter for #rktwhl, you only get about 3 or 4 updates. Lame.

Nov 19 2010

Web App Technology List

I created a list of all of the technologies I’ve researched in the last two months regarding the building of web applications. I figured I’d put it on the old interwebs for anyone else out there that’s getting started with a web app and wants to see it all in one place. If you have an addition, put it in the comments and I’ll update the list!

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