A Random Pattern

Archive for October 11th, 2006

MDA – Voter Opinions

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006

Here are some of the recent blog entries about MDA, as well as posts where some forum members lay out their case for their favorite (and least favorite) apps:

Combination of the Dock and Dashboard – by Justin
The Semis: My Opinion – by microwavedh20
Weighing in: My Picks – by Dillon Krug, former contestant
My Picks for Round 3 – by Devon Shaw
mythrol’s picks and reasoning – err, by mythrol, of course :lol:
what do you get if you cross a guitar tuner with a dictation machine and feed it to a MIDI engine? – by The Doorkeeper
what a computer app should be – by SP3CCYLAD
I’m still holding off on posting my favorites. If you’re here, bored, only because you’re waiting to vote: just come back tomorrow. It looks like voting is delayed until Thursday. Don’t worry, you’ll still get 48 hours to show up and vote.

MDA “Top Ten” (top six, really) lists are in draft stage.  Come back tomorrow!

MDA Semi-finals: The time-restricted voter’s guide

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006

last updated 2006-10-12, 16:50 EST

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If you’re not already familiar with MDA (My Dream App), read my previous post first (American Idol for your (Mac) computer).

Quick Summary:
Here is my two-sentence summary of each application, in reverse alphabetical order. Note that the ideas generally have a lot more to them than I indicate here (skip to the next section if you want the current status of each project), and this summary is the “Cliff Notes” version for those not already familiar with the application ideas.

Whistler: Whistle to your computer, and hear your music converted to piano. Tap on your desk, and Whistler converts it to drums.

Portal: Keep your application settings, and important files, synchronized between two or more Macs. One example would be your browser bookmarks and settings.

iGTD: Use the “Getting Things Done” method on your Mac. Even if you’ve never heard of GTD, iGTD aims to be an easy-to-use version with simple tutorials to get you started.

Hijack: Keep all your favorite forums in one easy place. It’s like an RSS Reader (news-reader) for forums.

Ground Control: Imagine a more powerful useful Dock, combined with Dashboard. With a glance you can see how many new emails you have, or check your calendar without launching the full iCal application.

Desktop Wars: A war rages on your desktop, while you work or play. When you have a few minutes, watch your desktop to see how the battle goes.

Cookbook: Store, find, schedule, and use recipes easily. Order ingredients online, or just print a weekly shopping list.

Blossom: A plant grows (or dies) on your desktop. How well it does depends on how hard you work, encouraging you to stay on task instead of online or playing games.

Atmosphere: Your desktop becomes a window, showing you the current weather outside. Instead of a little icon, you see rain falling on your desktop if that’s what’s happening outside.

Judging Criteria:
A) Innovation and Creativity of the Idea
B) Use of OS X and Leopard
C) Feasibility of Development
D) Mass-Market Appeal

Current Status:
Whistler: The contestant seemed to really get in gear over the last week or two. New mockups, an icon, then a website have helped fuel a resurgence of interest and forum activity around Whistler. One spark for the renewed interest was a technical conversation on the forums (not for the faint of heart) about the mechanics of making Whistler work. That conversation sparked this web post by Rageous. In the last round of voting Whistler sat low, however that was quite possibly due to Digging by other apps near Whistler’s level. (UPDATE: The fan base for Whistler seems to be vocal and growing.)

: Another contestant that appeared to get motivated after a low showing a few rounds ago, Portal quickly developed from a monolithic mockup, to some widget add-ons, finally taking the form of a widget as the main interface. Portal also gained a website. Although Portal always had brilliant eye-candy ideas which will make for a great Mac app, the interface and usability has seen a lot of attention recently. This is now one of the more active contestants, and he interacts not only with his own app idea, but other ideas as well. The last round of voting had Portal in the top three, quite a move for this Dream App. (UPDATE: Portal has added a few more mockups in the forums.  UPDATE 2: Portal has an improved website, including the new “Pro Mode” mockup.)

: Over the last few weeks, iGTD has received plenty of questions in the forums but no answers. The contestant is dealing with life issues, and has only been able to do a little in the way of mockups or defining iGTD’s function. Still, iGTD did decently in the last few rounds of voting, and there is certainly a group that wants to see this type of app come to fruition. One fan has even offered up some better mockups as a starting point (and the contestant has asked for help). That the Omni team has announced a GTD app does make winning a bigger challenge for iGTD, especially without the attention of the contestant.

: This app has been a front-runner for most of the competition. Still, the contestant isn’t sitting on his heels, and just released a second video mockup. Strangely, Hijack still doesn’t have a website. However, the first video garnered praise from MDA creator Phillip Ryu for raising the stakes. The contestant has remained quite active, but is holding back on one answering one of the more popular questions (how to post using Hijack) until the final round of voting. (UPDATE: Continued discussion on smart keywords and folders is happening here.)

Ground Control
: Another very active contestant, with one of the bigger ideas in the competition. Ground Control has gained several mockups and an entire website. The latest, though, is an actual demo (hacked together using Javascript, but enough to get the idea across) and some sample skins. I can’t directly link to either, but you’ll see the big green buttons at the top, with the links shortly after. The last round brought some controversy, both because contestants had to use digg to stay in, and because of the title used to digg Ground Control. (UPDATE: Ground Control was the first with a website, not Cookbook. UPDATE 2: Ground Control made good use of the voting delay by unveiling the collaboration with Portal and Cookbook.  Russell also listed possible modules again.)

Desktop Wars
: DW, as it’s called in the forums, continues to endure much controversy. For awhile, a fan going by Pixel Sage was the only one doing anything with the DW idea. During voting days the contestant shows up, only to disappear again as soon as voting is over. Because of the controversy, the idea still hasn’t made it much past the original idea. However, before Pixel Sage gave up on DW, he did make some great-looking art, mockups, and concept pieces. The contestant showed up again this voting round, rehashing again what DW will be without bringing much new to the table. Still, DW has been popular every voting round. (UPDATE: Pixel Sage sparked one more controversy before ditching DW, with a suggestion that the contestant was throwing in the towel.)

: Cookbook has been neck-and-neck at the top of voting rounds with Hijack. This contestant was one of the earliest with some really gorgeous mockups. I believe it was also the first website(UPDATE: See the Ground Control entry above). Since Cookbook was well-developed early on with strong mockups, the app seems to have enjoyed a comfortable following, but also has been quieter the last round or two. Still, new mockups have shown up for the Amazon integration / shopping cart feature, as well as searching (an often-brought-up topic in Cookbook’s forums). The Full Screen mockups also saw some more refinement.

: Several new mockups and idea refinement have taken place over the last few weeks with Blossom, culminating in a new logo and even a video recently. The feedback has been mostly positive, though several have requested a different plant (for example, more cartoonish). Blossom joined in the controversy last round with a digg to stay out of the bottom results. Blossom did it right, with a nice write-up, telling the users how to vote, and even making easy voting links to Digg, Reddit, AND Netscape. Now that’s being thorough. We’ll see how that impacts this round, as contestants may find it necessary to market and sell their ideas to get votes. (UPDATE: Blossom’s new website is announced in typical, and tasteful, style by Dan.  A poll is even included!)

: One of the most aggressive and straightfoward contestants, Atmosphere is a simple idea meant to look good. With some good support for mockups, Atmosphere last week encouraged the trend of exploring settings panel / configuration options. Several fans helped, arriving at some really gorgeous (and some just plain practical) preference pane options. (Edited) Atmosphere kicked off controversy last round, using a well-timed digg to stay in the competition. (UPDATE: The contestant hasn’t been in the forum for four days, though fans have been keeping the preference panel discussion alive without him.  UPDATE 2: The contestant reappeared to assure us that he was, in fact, still alive and following along.  He blogged two versions of settings panels created by fans, and hinted at information on forecasting soon to come.  So he “forecasted” forecasting for Atmosphere.  ;)  )
Whew! That was a lot of work! Come back soon for my personal favorites, as well as some “Top 6″ lists where I’ll rank contestants and ideas based on things like Most Effort, Prettiest, Most Functional, Most Friendly, and whatever else comes to mind. Suggestions are encouraged. See you in the Forums.

UPDATE: Voting has been delayed for the semifinals, and is rumored to be starting sometime.  :D  Make sure to check the main page at MDA frequently!
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