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October 2010

Book Review: The Best Getting Started Book for iPhone Development

photo credit: @davestone Disclosure: we get a lot of technical books sent to us from publishers. We tend to review the ones that we like and recommend. Occasionally when a book is truly horrible, we’ll sound the alarm. But if they’re mediocre, we’ll just let them fall in the forest without a sound. It’s official: the contest is over. The best getting-started-developing-iPhone-applications book
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Heroku Intro

If you’re building Ruby web apps (Rails, Sinatra, Padrino, …) and you haven’t tried out Heroku, please do so. Immediately. You can run on the base package, which is more than adequate for a toy or even small business app, for free. It’s great for trying things out. No need to dork around with Apache, Nginx, Mongrel, Passenger, etc, etc etc… Just a “git push” is all you need.
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Lean Startup Machine: Nov 5-7

Have you heard about the Lean Startup movement yet? It’s is a profound concept that’s having a major impact on how companies are being built, funded and scaled. Pathfinder is a major proponent of this approach: It’s the best way we know how to create successful software products. That’s why we’re sponsoring and helping organize the Chicago Lean Startup Machine Nov. 5-7. Lean Startup prin
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Quick application prototyping solved

I can not overstate the importance of getting some actual User Experience out there quickly for feedback. Mockups being static do not convey that critical aspect of interaction so they don’t pass muster. It often takes development dollars to realize an app was great only in picture format and that to make it a good app you’d need to double the original budget. Ouch. Amir Khella was so nice to elaborate on
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Amazon's Half Baked Customer Development Approach

This post from Ian McAllister prompted a lot of talk at my company. We’re a big proponent of Customer Development * as an approach to new product development, and this seems to be at least a step in that direction. For new initiatives a product manager typically starts by writing an internal press release announcing the finished product. The target audience for the press release are the new/updated product̵
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The Top 10 applications we don’t want to build

1. I need an application to get around constraints imposed by a vendor, whether it’s Microsoft, Apple (iPhone). – They’re going to find a way to block you or sue you before you recover your costs. 2. I want an application that combines the features of Facebook, MySpace and YouTube. – Only a few people have enough money to compete successfully and they know better. However, if you can create a niche (a spe
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Designing for Touch: The Science of Tap vs. Click

We know intuitively designing for a touch interface is different than a mouse driven interface. But why are they different? Let’s wrap a little bit of science around these two worlds. Both interfaces, tap or click, use the same three basic cognitive functions. Seeing, locating and acting. In the mouse world, a user sees an item of interest on the screen, locates the mouse to that item and then clicks. In the touch wo
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Dude, where's my Flash RGB?

photo credit: Jamal Ahmad Flash has a great function for changing pixels that meet specified color criteria on a Bitmap to a new color: threshold() on a BitmapData object. I learned about this function recently while working on a data visualization project in which the user wanted to be able to toggle a color-coded measurement value on and off. Upon discovery of threshold() the plan was simple: replace all pixels of
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Glif Project – Customer Development with Kickstarter

Take a look at the Glif project on Kickstarter. Synopsis: Two guys put together a 3d printed prototype of an iPhone tripod mount and stand, make a clever video, post it on kickstarter to raise $10,000, and send a note to John Gruber, and watched their pledges blow up. When I pledged a little earlier in the day they were up to 3285 backers and $82,921 in pledges. When cleverly applied, Kickstarter can be a great custo
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Simple Rails Performance Tip – ActiveRecord Batch Retrieval

Users.each do |user| puts user.name end Ever wondered about how expensive a simple “.each” on an ActiveRecord object collection is. This essentially means for every iteration of the loop, there is going to be a database fetch. Imagine looping over a collection that has 10,000 records (forget millions..). Yes, I have made use of this very same thing a bunch of times without realising the kind of performanc
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