Author Archives: Kristian Tapaninaho

We’re In The App Business, Baby

There’s few things better in life are than the feeling of achievement. Unlike most project that I work on this took more or less only 3 weeks from idea to a product.

Last summer after running the Edinburgh marathon, I thought that there must be a better way of creating split times when preparing for a race. (Split times are used by runners to help them run at a consistent speed through out a long race.) Initially I though it should be a website that would help generate them I quickly let go of the idea as I didn’t think I could recoup the money I’d need to invest in it. As you probably know, I’m not a programmer, and I would have had to hire someone to come code it for me.

Then around mid April this year I was listening to an interview of Ryan Carson on the Pipeline podcast where he was talking about the importance of passive income. In the interview, Ryan mention a website called smartpassiveincome.com where the author, Pat, blogs about different passive income streams that he’s been able to create. One of many things he’s doing is developing iPhone apps. As he’s not a developer, he outsources the development work via various outsourcing websites. I guess hearing how little you can have something developed inspired me return back to the idea of making something that helps runners create those split times.

The process itself was almost scarily fast. I mocked up about four or five screenshots in Photoshop to see how the app might look. I then posted a job on a freelancer outsourcing website. Few days later I had enough proposals to choose from and in another 2 weeks the app was ready! Once the ball was rolling, it took surprisingly little time to get it finished.

So what’s the app then? It’s called Split Times. Check out the video below to see how it works. Or get it in the App Store, it’s only 99¢.

28

There’s couple of really good things or changes I want to carry to the new year.

Lesson(s)

It’s too easy to ignore things when you’re seemingly busy. It’s too easy to put things off just because you think there’s more important things to do. It is today that I have to lay the ground work for tomorrow.

I know it sounds fucking philosophical but if this was the only lesson I learned from last year, I’d be happy. Stay on top of things, do my best now and be ready to do that tomorrow as well.

One of those groundworks I did last year – and I’ve written about this before – was to take better care of myself. There’s few things worse than being 27 and in the worst shape you’ve ever been. It’s easy to wait until tomorrow to get started. it’s too easy to put things off. Luckily I stopped doing that last August, dusted the good old Asics and started counting the kilometers. Now – 591 km later – I’m looking forward on doing my first half marathon in two weeks and full 42195 meters in the end of May. I’m 28 and in the best shape I’ve ever been. Ever.

Work-wise, I think I’ve learned to be a bit more proactive. Autumn was a bit too quiet for my liking and that was pretty difficult. As a result I started looking for more jobs and not relying on things that were supposed to be happening. It’s good to be busy now but I know it’s not going to last forever – try this May – so I must keep that in mind. Be proactive.

Five Goals for the 29th Year.

  • Do three things I can be proud of in the end of the year. Maybe an exhibition. I’ve wanted to do one for a while.
  • Stay on top of things. Leapfrog with work. While doing a job today be ready to start a new one tomorrow. Take better care of my paper work.
  • Concentrate. Maybe an AppleScript that’ll stop me from launching NetNewsWire between 0800-1700. Stop trying to multitask as much.
  • Diversify. Learn a new skill. Don’t know what yet. Any suggestions? I’ve got a PHP book on loan from Alex, maybe that. Maybe not.
  • Make five people happy for a day. Nice experience or something that’ll help them in life.

It’s been a really good year over all. I’m happy in life and every year seems to be getting better. Let’s make this an ever better one. Over and out.

Photographic Heroes

It doesn’t really matter that digital is – not the future but – the present of photography. I don’t think any of my photographer friends use film in their professional practice but probably all of them use it once in a while for other, ‘personal’ stuff. Photographing on film, especially with medium and large format cameras, is very different from photographing with DSLR. Photographing is a process that is effected by the tools and methods used.

Just about a year ago, Polaroid announced that they won’t be making Polaroid film much longer and in June this year production was stopped. This was obviously a great blow to many but most of all to those who’s style depends on the use of it.

Now, a group of Dutch heroes have bought the equipment that was used to make Polaroid and not only are they re-starting it’s production but are also researching into modern ways of assembling the film cartridge.

The Impossible mission is NOT to re-build Polaroid Integral film but (with the help of strategic partners) to develop a new product with new characteristics, consisting of new optimised components, produced with a streamlined modern setup. An innovative and fresh analog material, sold under a new brand name that perfectly will match the global re-positioning of Integral Films.

Impossible b.v. Be sure to check it out. They have a more info on the project as well as really cool Polaroids of machinery used to make it.

–kristian

Apple Drops iPhone SDK NDA

Fantastic news:

We have decided to drop the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) for released iPhone software.

We put the NDA in place because the iPhone OS includes many Apple inventions and innovations that we would like to protect, so that others don’t steal our work. It has happened before. While we have filed for hundreds of patents on iPhone technology, the NDA added yet another level of protection. We put it in place as one more way to help protect the iPhone from being ripped off by others.

However, the NDA has created too much of a burden on developers, authors and others interested in helping further the iPhone’s success, so we are dropping it for released software. Developers will receive a new agreement without an NDA covering released software within a week or so. Please note that unreleased software and features will remain under NDA until they are released.

Thanks to everyone who provided us constructive feedback on this matter.

Reason, of course, why this is great is that this allows developers to talk to other developers about their apps and issues they might have come against. Having the NDA was a bit like Grain Corp. selling a grain but not allowing farmers to talk to each other how to best grow that grain.The Pragmatic Programmers has already reversed their decision to pull the production of an iPhone app development book. So it’s pretty good news.

What surprises me though is the way Apple has worded the announcement. They are apologetic not that it’s taken so long to reverse the decision but that they had it in place in the first place. That strikes me as being slightly odd. They could have easily just said this was their plan along and that the SDK is in a good enough state that it can be talked about.

On the other hand, maybe they’re apologising for this to make it easier to ignore people complaining about those few apps that haven’t been allowed into the App Store. Remember “…dropping it for released software…” means that you still can’t talk about it if your app is stopped at the gates of Apple*.

Nevertheless, I’m sure 99% of iPhone devs are happy to hear these news.

kristian

*Most famous case of an app being rejected entry to the App Store was ‘Podcaster’, an app that would allow you to subscribe to and listen to podcasts on your iPhone. What made it unique over iTunes/iPod combo on the iPhone was that it allowed you to download them directly on it without tethering to a computer. Pretty cool feature if you listen to a lot of podcasts like myself. Reason Apple gave for the rejection was that it ‘duplicated functionality of iTunes’. Fair enough reason as that’s warned about in the SDK. But doesn’t that mean that Apple is worried that someone might do things better than they do? Isn’t it just slightly anti-competitive?

300 km Challenge

So we’re going on a big trip to New Zealand around christmas this winter. We’ll be there for about 4 weeks; camping, hanging around on long sandy beaches, drinking wine and eating. I need to get into shape to survive all that. That’s why I’m starting the ‘300 km challenge’. Aim is to run a total of 300 km before 15th December. That’s not that much, only an average of about 2.6 km a day. But if I miss a day, the next day I’ll have to run 5.2 km to keep up. Simple.

Two incentives for me to complete this challenge:

  • 1. For every kilometer that I’m short of 300 km, I’ll donate £1 to a charity chosen by readers. Vote below in the comments.
  • 2. I’d like to invite you to run with me. It’s easier to commit to things when you have someone to do it with. No pressure, thought, it’s not a competition. We’ll just try and reach 300 km

I’ll be posting here every ten days on my progress, so stay tuned!

Thanks,

–kristian

[Update] I’ve started yesterday by running 3.1 km. Days to go: 115.

iPhone 2.0 – Few Quick Notes

So I managed to download the 2.0 update sometime before coming available on as an official update (as of writing this, it’s still not available)

Here’s few initial thoughts, for your pleasure:

  • App Store is very nice to use, as easy as it was to use the Wi-Fi iTMS, it’s soo-u easy to download apps. Almost too easy, you can quite quickly end up downloading all sorts of little apps. I haven’t tried un-installing any yet, but I’m sure I’ll get to do that very soon.

Few Apps I downloaded

  • Remote. iTunes library remote control. Uses Wi-Fi to connect and surprisingly works on my PowerMac G4 which doesn’t have an Airport card itself but is connected to the Time Capsule. One less reason to get off the sofa. I hope Eye TV will develop something similar.
  • Super Monkey Ball. It’s harder than it looks in the SDK demos. And I can’t seem to be able to continue from same level after leaving the game. This might not be true, I haven’t played it that much yet.
  • NetNewsWire. Fantastic. Reason why I won’t even look at any other aggregator is that this syncs with the desktop and web interface of NetNewsWire. This is probably what I’ve been mostly missing with the iPhone. I get most of my news and blogs through RSS (I can’t understand why so many people still don’t use it) and have become quite reliant on it. It’s a simple, free and a must have app.

Other notes:

  • You can now search for contacts. I’m not sure if I like the way this is implemented- you have to scroll to top of contact list to search, rather than there being a dedicated button.
  • International keyboards! My favorite new feature after Apps. Maybe 15% of texts I send are in Finnish and this just got a lot easier. I hated the way it used to try and correct my words to English. (i.e. when spelling the word ja [Finnish for and] it would always correct it to the English word is. Super annoying but it’s fixed now, thank you.)
  • MobileMe supports contact/iCal etc. syncing. I think it’s disappointing that you need to pay £59 per year for something that should really be free. Seeing how easily the Remote app works with iTunes, the only reason Apple wants us to pay for that sync is that MobileMe still lacks useful functionality for most consumers. Which really comes down to greed. Perhaps someone else will develop a sync app, I’d be happy to pay money for it.

OK, that’s it. More to come when I have more time to spend with this. BTW, I’m not sure when I’m getting the 3G, could be bothered rushing to O2 store. They kept texting me saying how scarce they are and how if you want one this summer, you have to get it now. No thanks, I’m sure I can get one this weekend.

–kristian

Diablo III

There are three games that are the corner stones of my gaming history: Total Annihilation, Civilization series and Diablo II. These are games that I seem to return to from time to time. In fact, I’ve just bought a new copy of Diablo II to play it with my 11-year-old brother, fantastic way for us to spend time together, which – living 2037 km apart – isn’t something we get to do in person as often as I’d like to. With Skype delivering audio between us, it’s as if we were in the same room.

Diablo III

Diablo II is now eight years old, and for a game to remain fresh all this time is somewhat of an achievement (installing it on Leopard was a struggle but doable in the end). For years there’s been rumors of Diablo III and those rumors are finally answered: Blizzard announced this weekend that it is in the making and will be released when it’s ready! I’m very excited, especially after watching the gameplay demo on their website. Well worth watching, it shows how they’ve remained loyal to the feel of Diablo yet made they gameplay feel more natural and faster. Destroyable environments, anyone?

Christmas 2008? Probably not, but at least, like always with Blizzard, it’ll be PC and Mac from day one.

–kristian