TextDrive now available in the Android Marketplace

July 6th, 2011

<Insert apologetic comment about not writing for a long time here>

I’d like to announce the first android app produced and developed by CodeNoise. It’s called TextDrive. If you find yourself in situations where responding to SMS text messages is difficult or even impossible, this is the app for you. After you install it, you can select one of the built-in responses. Additionally in the full version, you can add your own response. Once you’ve done that, any time someone sends you an SMS message, TextDrive will automatically reply to them with the response. The app will also show a list of the messages that you have received so you can quickly glance at them and see if any are urgent. With a quick tap TextDrive will even read the message to you. This comes in handy if you happen to be driving and don’t want to take your eyes off the road. If you get a lot of texts, or want to unclutter the list, just long-tap any message and it will be removed from the list. Don’t worry, the message is still in your normal Message inbox.
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The tech industry still fails to understand basic business.

September 4th, 2009

Jason Fried, founder of 37signals recently posted a reality-check for the tech industry.

This pattern — “success” based on forecasted future success instead of current success — shows up all over the tech-business press.

He goes on to questions the false measures of success that so many companies use. Things like page views, or new customers, only matter if there is a clear deliberate way to gather a return on investment. He has a very good take on the phenomenon.
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Zembly makes social apps simple

March 19th, 2009

Widgets have definitely become “the next new thing”. The small snippets of functionality can be plastered just about anywhere on the web, your homepage, facebook profile, blog, etc. Widgets tend to range from completely frivolous decorations to dead useful mini-apps to games.. the list goes on.

As widgets have gained in popularity, various companies have created tools to assist in their creation. Google has created a tool that allows you to either create a widget from an existing template or create your own from scratch. The template based widgets don’t even require any programming knowledge. Just fill out the form and presto. Yahoo has a similar offering. But the most interesting so far has to be an offering from Sun called zembly.

Zembly provides an all in one widget creation solution. You can choose what kind of widget you want ot build. You can choose from a normal web widget, Facebook application, OpenSocial application, or even a Meebo application. They then provide a wizard to walk you through configuring your application. They provide an interface to most of the major data services (google maps, google translate, amazon retail search, and many others) as well as a way to add any other public service you may need.

You don’t have to worry about having a server to host the widget or application on. Zembly provides free hosting with any account. Not only that, but they do allow you to fetch the source code for your application should you choose to host it elsewhere.

One last interesting thing that zembly offers. Anybody can see, and contribute to anybody’s widget. Think of this as socially generated software. Anybody can collaborate on any widget or app. They can use any app as a starting point for their idea and so forth. Zembly does provide a way to disable this, and keep your app private if you so choose, but it appears that this feature may cost in the future.

So there you go. Zembly provides the tools, the hosting, and the collaboration to ride the widget wave as far as it can go. They have the best tools I have seen. They have fantastic integration with facebook. They provide hosting for those who need it, and source code for those who don’t. Now go build your widget!


Should web developers also design?

March 5th, 2009

A couple of months ago, The Pragmatic Programmers announced a new book. Web Design for Developers is described as,

how to make your web-based application look professionally designed. We’ll help you learn how to pick the right colors and fonts, avoid costly interface and accessibility mistakes—your application will really come alive. We’ll also walk you through some common Photoshop and CSS techniques and work through a web site redesign, taking a new design from concept all the way to implementation.

My question is this. Should a developer be trusted with design? It is definitely a profitable skill to have. I believe that developers should at least have a basic idea of what goes into design. I also believe that designers should have a basic understanding of web development. However, if someone is at one end of the spectrum or the other, how do they acquire the necessary skills?

There are several books written for each audience, but very few that are targeted at both. To my knowledge, this is the first book attempting to make a developer more capable as a designer. It appears to approach design in much the way a “logically driven”, coding brain works. It breaks down the fundamental components of design. Layout, color theory, spacing, mockups, etc. All are laid out with a logical process. In some ways it only scratches the surface. Entire books are written on color theory, or typography alone.
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