A Random Pattern

Archive for the 'MDA' Category

Disappointing news for Macolytes

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

I wrote up a post on MDA, so I won’t repeat it here.  The gist of it is that I couldn’t think of a better day to let everyone know what was going on with Whistler.  It’s a bit disappointing, but it had to be done.

In other news, Tessa and I played pogs this morning!  I was going through YAB (yet another box) and found some of my old pogs.  Tessa and I had a great time – anyone else pulled out their pogs recently?  :P

MacHeist -> CocoaDuel -> Peace and Joy

Friday, December 22nd, 2006

If you’ve been following MacHeist at all, you know there has been a fair amount of controversy surrounding the bundle sale at the end and subsequently, the whole event.  Most commenters appear to have dug in their heels at this point, on both sides of the issue.  Thus I see little room or purpose in further discourse on the subject.

There is a heart-warming end to the tale though.  A few of the developers / blogs involved decided on a friendly duel to settle the situation.  CocoaDuel was thus born.  Here’s the idea: each developer had something like a day and a half to write a holiday-inspired application and pick a favorite charity.  Then the unwashed masses (us) would get to vote on our favorite in the most meaningful way – with our wallets.  Yes, you get to give money to a charity, and in doing so help a developer win a case of beer (or appropriate substitution, of course).

I also should mention that all the apps are free, and some of them could be fairly useful.  They are also all supposed to be open-source, which means that you can play with or improve any of them you want to your heart’s content.

So yet again, I urge you to go vote.  This time, you’re getting an excuse to give a little extra money to a charity.  And really, who needs an excuse for that?!  

My Dream App: The Vote is Over

Saturday, October 28th, 2006

The Final round of MDA came and went.  Victories were celebrated, dreams were crushed.  Those of you who took the time to vote after my plea Wednesday, Thank you.  It was a close and exciting vote.

The final winners were Atmosphere, Portal, and Cookbook.  Hijack was in fourth, by only 5 votes!  Unfortunately Whistler was a little further behind, and Blossom had the unfortunate job of holding down the final position.

In addition, there was some unexpected and unfortunate drama after the round finished, due to some fraudulent votes.  This was quite unfortunate, but seems to have been handled well (in my opinion).
The MDA experience is far from over.  In fact, anyone is welcome to continue following the development of the three winning ideas into final applications.  I’ll be posting updates here infrequently, when something particularly newsworthy or interesting happens.  If you’re interested in seeing a behind-the-scenes of how shareware / software is developed, it might be worth your time to follow along.  Head over to the forums, I’ll see you there.  :)

One last thing of note: Though only three app ideas were winners and awarded publishing contracts, several other ideas were very strong and had great community support.  There is a good chance, because of that, that some of the other apps will get picked up by other development teams.  I’ll be featuring that news here as well.  So far there is nothing official, but rumor has the following apps being looked into: Hijack, Whistler, Blossom, and Ground Control (4th-7th place in the MDA vote results).  Hijack has a particularly active group of supporters, with rough work-ups of code already in progress!  Ground Control has a great forum live and starting to hop with action.  I’ll be doing my best to support Whistler‘s development, though I can’t imagine a professional team not taking advantage of that idea.

Those of you who have been patiently waiting for other-than-MDA content on my blog, your patience will soon be rewarded.  :)  Thanks for sticking around – and let me know in the comments what you’d like to hear more about!

Save Hijack and Whistler!

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

Alright, if you haven’t yet voted, you’ve got less than 24 hours to get to MDA and vote for my three favorites – Hijack, Whistler, and Cookbook!

Ok, that’s not really fair.  Go, read the descriptions of the apps.  Ask questions here or in the forums (or just search in the forums), then vote for what you think would be best.  But if you’re not quite sure, you can trust my seasoned opinion.  ;)

Seriously, I think Hijack and Whistler are in danger of not winning.  Of course, it’s to also good app ideas like Atmosphere and Portal, but still . . .

Atmosphere I’m pretty sure will get done one way or another.  Portal’s a different question, there’s no guarantee that it will get done if it doesn’t win.  But the ones least likely to get done by other than the MDA dream team are Hijack and Whistler, and I badly want to buy both of them.

So your opinions count, even if you don’t think they do.  It’s easy, it will only take you about ten minutes, and I’ll appreciate it (even if you don’t vote for my favorites :P ).  Go, vote your conscience, and if you want let me know in the comments.

May the best app win!

(seriously, go vote.  Why haven’t you left yet?  Go, go!)

MDA Roundup: in the Forums, last week…

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

First, a quick run-down of recent blog posts, as well as mockups / idea developments of note:

Whistler – the music program for non-musicians – Another Whistler fan appears

My Dream App is getting closer final round – This MDA voter, not so big in Whistler.

Meanwhile, Whistler responds to requests from Judges and forum members to aim for simplicity and the consumer market, at least for now.

Portal has a three part series to wrap up it’s run, concluding with some of the best mockups yet and a clear vision from the contestant.  The special “Welcome screen” is an exciting new addition.
Atmosphere offers the most controversy on the board, with ardent defenders and detractors (possibly sparked by it’s runaway lead in last week’s semi-final vote). Mockups for the new forecasting feature are unveiled. This discussion of using a “time-slider” to move through the forecast is also provacative.

Hijack keeps it’s fans waiting, pushing anticipation until the last moment before the vote.  A mockup on how to post using Hijack is promised, but a video is hinted at.
Cookbook does a nice wrap-up of it’s core features and key benefits.  Recipe Management also underwent a few revisions to make the sidebar more friendly.
Blossom unveils several new mockups.  Ideas for rating individual webpages, a status icon, integration with OS X, and use of Leopard’s new To-Do list are presented.
Another voter weighs in with his pre-vote opinions.

Secondly, I have a surprise for you all.  I will be one of the judges in the final round, alongside some quite exciting and popular personalities.  So make sure, Monday or Tuesday (I think), to go to mydreamapp.com and vote (after reading the judges’ opinions, of course ;) ).  See you there!  If you have questions, just ask in the forums or here in the comments.

My Dream App: Vote Date is announced

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

Mark Your Calendars: My Dream App is approaching the final vote. Next Monday, the final voting round opens. Follow the link for more information on the software and other freebies.

Also make sure to check back here, as I’ll have another round-up of MDA Forum activity as the contestants gear up for their final shot at a contract. 6 app ideas will enter, but only 3 will survive…

Note: The other ideas are good enough that another development team might pick them up.  They’ve got at least one buyer already lined up.  :D

MDA Finals: The end is near

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

Some time in the next few days, the final round of MDA voting is supposed to open.  I’ll be sure to post an alert here as well.  In the meantime, you can expect one more voter’s guide tomorrow.  It won’t be as long, don’t worry.  I think all the contestants are suffering from sleep deprivation.  ;)

Also, Phill has hinted at some fun surprises in store for MDA’ers.  I won’t tell you where on the forums to look (until tomorrow at least), but really it’s not hard to find.

Meanwhile, at least one outed app continues to make a play for success!  That’s right, the much loved (and much misunderstood) Ground Control will carry on.  Russell intends to keep the website up and the idea alive.  Here’s hoping he can find a development team and get that thing made.

Oh, and once MDA is over, I’ve got a virtual flood of technical, familical, and philisophical posts just waiting to burst forth.  So, you know, look at the right column and click on the big orange button.  You know you want to.  ;)

My Dream App: The “Top 6″ by Judging Criteria

Friday, October 13th, 2006

Here are my predictions for what apps make it to the top 6. First, though, a quick rundown by voting criteria, as objective as I can be. Keep in mind these are all somewhat subjective, though. These are the criteria again, as a reminder:

Judging Criteria:
A) Innovation and Creativity of the Idea
B) Use of OS X and Leopard technologies (see list of technologies at the end of the post)
C) Feasibility of Development
D) Mass-Market Appeal

Innovation and Creativity

This criteria is both easy and tough. Initially I had a very “artsy” view of creative, making this list easy. But as I look over it more, I realize some of the creative ideas, like Cookbook or even Ground Control, could also justifiably make an argument to be higher on the list.

  1. Blossom
  2. Atmosphere
  3. Whistler
  4. Hijack
  5. Portal
  6. Cookbook

Use of OS X and Leopard

This is a tough one, especially since I’m not a Mac developer. Here’s my best shot:

  1. Portal
  2. Ground Control
  3. Hijack
  4. Cookbook
  5. Blossom
  6. Atmosphere

Feasibility of Development

After this round, I don’t think this criteria will play as much of a role.  Almost everything still in the running has already been deemed feasible by the judges.  In a way, the idea of a Dream App is almost to push the limits of feasibility, not stay well within them.  Still, here’s the list, ordered by most feasible to least:

  1. Atmosphere
  2. Cookbook
  3. Hijack
  4. Blossom
  5. Portal
  6. Ground Control

Mass Market Appeal

This is probably the most critical factor, and is probably the main deciding factor or motivation for many voters.  “Would I buy this?” is, I think, a good question to ask yourself before voting.  Don’t ask “would I download this and try it for a few hours?”.  :D  This is also the most subjective list, so here are my opinions:

  1. Whistler
  2. Ground Control
  3. Hijack
  4. Cookbook
  5. Portal
  6. Atmosphere

My Personal Opinions (finally!)

The reason I haven’t shared them yet is that they’re not set in stone, especially not until I read the guest judges’ comments.  Still, I’ve got a pretty firm opinion right now.  That opinion, though, has changed since I first started following MDA, and is likely to change again before the final vote next week.

I was actually surprised when I finished doing the ranking above, so maybe you were too.  The diversity of the applications really shows through, and they all have different areas of strength.  Each of them has a different potential market, as well, which makes the “Mass Market Appeal” that much more difficult to judge.  Compound that with the fickleness of consumers, and we have an almost impossible prediction to make.  Good thing we’re utilizing the “Wisdom of Crowds“.  ;)
Before I go on, voting is likely to start soon for the semi-finals.  There are 9 contestants, and after this voting round 6 will head to the finals.  Next week the final vote will leave us with 3 winners.  After that, MDA developers will form teams and create the 3 winning apps, with (hopefully) plenty of community involvement along the way.


  1. Cookbook: I would buy this before any of the above apps.  It’s a really well-thought out idea, and I think it’d be really successful.  Still, it seems a bit “tame” for what MDA could produce.  I think of it as “proof” that MDA isn’t just for geeks, but for real people.  Plus, think of the market this way: everyone has to eat.  Those that have discretionary income are able to pick and choose what they want to eat when.  Discretionary income is good for selling an app like this.
  2. Hijack: In contrast to what I just mentioned for Cookbook, Hijack is for Forum Junkies.  That happens to include my wife, oddly enough, which is why Hijack initially caught my eye.  This idea is just hands-down a winner, especially if you look at the success of both RSS and the current interest around “social” and “community” type web activities.  I think it’s self-explanatory, someone tell me if I’m wrong and I’ll explain.  :P
  3. Whistler: This was a slow starter, but as the vision became clearer it grew on me.  This seems to me the most marketable of the ideas, one of the funnest and most creative, and after lengthy forum discussion the conclusion was that it would be feasible.  I really like the contestant’s vision, and can really see this being one of those apps used to “sell” the Mac.  Not because it, by itself, is “needed” by anyone, but because it would be a perfect example of how things on the Mac are easy and completely, mind-blowingly awesome.
  4. Portal, Ground Control, Blossom, and Atmosphere are all really close 4th places in my mind.  :(  I wish they could all get developed!

I expect iGTD, Desktop Wars, and Atmosphere or Ground Control to not make the semi-finals.  Reasons?

  • iGTD hasn’t gotten any further development attention, unfortunately.  (However, there’s a strong GTD cult that might keep this one in anyways)
  • Desktop Wars has been mired in controversy and lack of attention (except on voting days).  (Again, there’s a strong contingent of -likely- younger voters that isn’t yet interested in the more practical aspects of the other apps, and would love to download DW.  This is a good time to stress that the winning MDA apps WILL NOT BE FREE, but will cost money.  :) )
  • Atmosphere – this was a hard call, because I like the idea, but it’s simple and not enough people seem to be buying it as “worth” the vote relative to the others.  We’re getting into the hard votes, where good ideas are going to lose out to the very best ideas, on merit and not on anything the contestant has much control over at this point.
  • Ground Control – also a hard call, I really like this app and I like the contestant and his work ethic even more.  The app is a brilliant idea, really strong, but I’m afraid it may be too hard for voters to grasp before they “clicky clicky” their easy vote buttons.  It took me a while to get on board, too.

There you have it, folks.  More opinions to come, if anyone still needs more.  And commentary next week on the finals, too!
Leopard Technologies, according to Apple’s “sneek peak” site:

Here are the other core technologies per the Leopard “sneek peak” site:
-Time Machine (auto file backup – can be hooked up to your app by API so you tell it how to smartly backup your app’s files instead of grabbing everything that changes)
-Mail (main interesting thing here is the universal ToDo list stuff, at least from an MDA perspective)
-iChat (new capabilities of sharing photos, movies, and putting fake backgrounds behind the speaker…)
-Spaces (virtual desktops, I see an explosion of innovation surrounding these. But that might just be dirt on my glasses. cool )
-Dashboard (new stuff is the web-clips ability and the easy widget designer-thing – forgot it’s name)
-Spotlight (new and improved! We hope!!)
-iCal (I don’t remember. But it was cool, I’m sure. wink )
-Accessibility (the Voice, and we all hope maybe more steps towards resolution independence?)
-64-bit (uhm, yeah…)
-Core animation (which is fun to toss around, but I think mainly means it’s easier for developers to flip images and video and what-not around the screen in whatever manner they want. Or something.)

Cool and Useful: an inspiration to us all

Thursday, October 12th, 2006

A new Mac application is coming out, one that does something that sounds really boring: it burns discs (you know, makes CD-Roms).  Go take a look at this video clip – it suddenly makes burning seem a little more fun.

Why do I mention this now, in the midst of the MDA fun?  Because this approach to making applications is one of the most exciting things about the Mac, and the My Dream App competition.  Disco makes something simple, when all previous attempts I’ve seen make it complicated.  Disco makes it cool and fun, when previously it’s been boring and borderline painful.

And the kicker?  One of the guys behind AppZapper and now Disco will be working on one of the winning MDA ideas.  So yeah, that’s how cool the final product is going to be.  Let the fun begin.  :)