App: The Human Story - My Story like many others

A recently posted kickstarter project is making a documentary about the inception of the App and they want to hear about app stories.

A recently posted kickstarter project is making a documentary about the inception of the App and they want to hear about app stories.

I decided to write my story because watching the trailer for the film I get the feeling that most of the stories will be about runaway successes from large companies and indie studios. My story is probably like most of the community especially for developers around my age; a view point of the App Revolution from a developer starting his career around the beginning of the iPhone release.

In late 2007,  I was almost halfway through my  computer science degree and working as a web developer for a digital agency in Perth, Australia. Someone in the office had one of the first iPhones. It was one of the early 2G devices the SDK was still be announced so as a developer it just felt like every other phone.

Like many others I purchased a iPhone 3G when it came out as a consumer not a developer. I had an interest in the SDK and began downloaded the SDK and ran the demo apps and started writing some code for the iPhone. However I didn't see the commercial success of the app revolution coming and didn't have the jump right in approach that many more successful app stories have. Still I built a simple app of my own that displayed the local traffic camera images. I made the app for a good reason, I wanted to solve a problem, the website wasn't viewable on mobile and I wanted a quick way to check the traffic. The app was free, so I didn't win the app store lottery however it had a purpose it got me noticed and helped me land a new more senior job, at the beginning of the "my company needs an app attitude was growing". I've always had the philosophy that a good native app should solve a problem (I'm sure I read that somewhere). Working on an app and then releasing it into the app store gives you a wonderful feeling of accomplishment that I love and still crave today whilst also keeps you grounded and vulnerable as frustrating app reviews come in.

I hope to provide balance from some of the "app store riches" stories that will be most likely highlighted and sensationalised in a documentary about apps. I think its important to tell the other, less discussed but still common story. The developers that have been walking the line between agency life and working on that app itch and are still going even though the app gold rush is well and truly over. As you can see whilst I've been trying to itch, I've built a decent number of apps for other Australian companies ranging from a small shoe retailer to a national shoe retailer (Betts) and a national car park operator (Wilson Parking) but unfortunately are now apps that are either a bit long in the tooth or no longer available.

Making a successful app is hard, very hard. It takes a dedication team with the perfect balance of skill, perseverance and a generous amount of luck, well so I've heard, I'm yet to make my own runaway app success story!

In June 2014 I started a new company in pursuit of the app store dream, freelancing/contracting as a web and iOS developer to pay the bills whilst I work on an app project of my own....

Which CMS is best?

I constantly get asked which CMS is best. My usual answer is "They're basically all the same, it depends entirely on your requirements" You wouldn't ask a builder to make a house and then tell them which type of concrete they should use

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Facebook Marketing - Measuring sentiment

Ask someone what they read and they will say a worthy tome like The Australian. Watch what they read and it’s some trashy mag. Expecting 1400 people to represent 20 million is deranged.

I read an interesting article today about using Facebook as a marketing research tool.

Polls suck Big Data rocks

Nielsen, Gallop, Newspoll, I don’t care, you all suck. Worked for a while (maybe) but now? No. Polls are about declared, conscious statements: Big Data is about undeclared analysis. Ask someone what they read and they will say a worthy tome like The Australian. Watch what they read and it’s some trashy mag. Expecting 1400 people to represent 20 million is deranged.

I couldn't agree more! 90% of the time statistics are twisted into just proving the point of something ;)  Techniques of using different demographic from nielson or newspoll is a classic trick to justify a certain decision but what if things where different.

I think the biggest problem with Facebook ads are the reliance on Facebook Likes or interests being a measurement of sentiment. How many Facebook comments have you seen on a company facebook page and thought why the hell did you like this company you obviously don't!  I guess the main issue is how many people have liked a page just so that they can make a negative comment every now and again in the same regard just because a user mentions a keyword in there profile interests doesn't mean they actually do. I believe people have dissociated themselves from the like adjective I believe facebook could do a lot more in helping marketers target the correct people (It might hurt revenue might be why they don't want to do this!)

Facebook have the data all the sentiment data in the user conversations and status updates it would just come down to correctly weighting negative and positive words and using certain triggers, such as if they have liked the page but have hidden the posts from their feed. I assume they would be doing this to some extend already but it would be nice if a marketer had more control

So Facebook when can we have an option to target user sentiment on a single interest or multiple. Something like shown below would be nice!

Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 7.24.20 PMSo for example if we wanted to run an ad for our recently launched company Bingy Bongy we could target people who have a positive sentiment towards the app store and combine that with a negative interest from a competitor. This probably wouldn't change the size of the audience it would just mean that if somebody makes a post the ad gets a higher priority.


Interview with a google (vampire)

Turning down a job at Google is a strange thing to do for a programmer  and I shouldn't really call google a vampire because they aren't. I'm sure they're a great company to work for. I've read numerous blog posts which describe how good they are. Its just not something that I'm looking for at this stage.....

Turning down a job at Google is a strange thing to do for a programmer  and I shouldn't really call google a vampire because they aren't. I'm sure they're a great company to work for. I've read numerous blog posts which describe how good they are. Its just not something that I'm looking for at this stage. Last year two fortune 500 companies (google and amazon) contacted me through linkedIn, (biggest reason to make sure you have a complete professional profile available online especially linkedIn).

Well technically I didn't actually get as far as a job offer but it sounds better when I say it like that. I got to the 3 or 4th interview depending on if you count the first chat that I had with the google recruiter. A very good casual chat. It was halfway through the last interview that I decided to finish it. You probably want to know why a programmer would say no to google but I'm actually not sure why. I guess its a combination of things.  It was very flattering  that they had contacted me and I wanted to see where it went but half way through I knew I was wasting my time and theres. I didn't want the job the only reason I wanted it was because I could say I've worked for google, which most people would tell you is the wrong reason. Google as a company have great ethos and principles but I just didn't want to become a monkey in a room plugging away in a room on a project that will get cancelled half way through out of my control.

If you've come across this post because your trying to figure out what questions a software engineer will be asked in a google interview your going about it the wrong way. If your trying to pretend your better a better developer than what you are your a fool. This goes for any interview. To get a job offer at google you usually have to go through at least 6 interviews unless your a brilliant con artist your going to get found out and look like a fool.


Twitter and Facebook

I know its like comparing apples with oranges but I did a little experiment last night between Facebook and Twitter. I wanted to measure how many people are actually reading my facebook and twitter messages.I updated my Facebook status with the following message. "Please comment or like if you read this I'm doing a little experiment between twitter and facebook :)"

and tweeted the following "Please reply or RT this if you read this I'm doing a little experiment between twitter and facebook :)"

No surprise twitter responses were several minutes faster than facebook, as I got a retweet basically straight away. Its also surprising to see which people reply. Especially on facebook. It shows the social network junkies and the people that don't normally comment or like your updates but have been guilted into responding.

So the results which are alot lower than I thought they would be, turns out my 275 followers and 224 facebook friends aren't as engaged and as useful as I thought.

Total responses are

Facebook: 32 Twitter: 20 LinkedIn: 0

What can you take away from this? Apart from learning that some of my facebook friends are up at werid times. Since I did this at around 12 at night. It needs to be taken with a pinch of salt since there was no real reason to share the message or comment it was just a courtesy thing but still I thought it was interesting. And the whole point of social networks is to share content that you find interesting. Anyway try it with your social networks and see what sort of response you get.

Why page rank isn't everything

I noticed today that this blog has a page rank of 2.Which is fine. (Although I'd like a higher one so feel free to link to this blog post!) One of my other websites that I have blogged about before has a page rank of 1 and as I have previously mentioned facemash gets a suprising amount of hits

Another site of mine has page rank of 3. Which gets around the same amount of hits as this blog.

I find this very interesting as alot of people are very focused on increasing their page rank by paying for or creating back links. But google really isn't that silly. You must create something relevant and interesting if you want to rank well, whether thats interesting content, such as this blog ;) or voting on myspace profiles which people seem to love. Alot of people believe if you have a high page rank you'll have visitors rushing in.  Whilst this may be true in some cases. Its not everything, as you can see from the above observations it defiantly isn't a measure in the amount of visitors you will receive. Its more a measure of authority which can lead to an increase amount of visitors. Which has led me to believe that content is king as long as its relevant and engaging.(Matt Cutts who features on the Google Webmaster Help is a great resource for more information on this) I guess for some it might seem obvious that if you create something engaging people will visit your site. But I believe its a point that needs to be pushed as its something that is frequently forgotten, especially in the world of SEO optimisation. There is no point in optimising your site if theres nothing on the site thats worth seeing in the first place.

So you ask what am I selling? Apart from myself through this blog. Nothing at the moment as I haven't finished creating it but you can take a sneak peak at


Facemash fool proofing your code, don't count on it

Be sure to have a look at my new project Bingy Bongy our first interactive children's book app is going feature a Bat and sign up. Ok I finally got round to updating the website I created over a year ago. I thought I'd just checkup on the code as I noticed the site was running very slow. If you don't know the history of my facemash its a site that I created in a day just as a  "proof of concept" and for a bit of a laugh after watching the Social Network Movie.

Far to often I go back to my code and say wow what was I thinking this was a major what was I thinking (I'm blaming the fact that I smashed it up in a day). The Facemash voting log has grown, grown alot! At last count to around 1 184 713, yeah thats right over 1.1millon votes have been casted! I'm surprised its so many although I shouldn't be because the site gets around 400 visits per day and on some days will peak at over 1000.

So I went on a quest to find out why the site was so slow I knew it was something todo with the Facemash Log table since it had over 1.1 million records, turns out I was doing not 1 but 2  SQL Count queries and this was being done for each display picture being display.  At the time I probably though "ah it'll be fine" it won't get that much traffic. Well this is proof, that the KISS principle isn't always the best.

Here is the offending code

public static int GetWinCount(Face face)
            int count = 0;
            using (SqlConnection connection = new SqlConnection(ConfigurationManager.ConnectionStrings["Default"].ConnectionString))
                SqlCommand command = new SqlCommand();
                command.Connection = connection;

                command.CommandText = "SELECT COUNT(ID) FROM FaceLog WHERE (FaceID1 = @FaceID AND FaceID1Winner = 1) OR (FaceID2 = @FaceID AND FaceID2Winner =1) ";

                command.Parameters.Add(new SqlParameter("@FaceID", face.ID));


                count = (int)command.ExecuteScalar();

            return count;

What started all this code optimisation is over the past weeks, I've been trying out a few different hosting providers as I'm currently paying $99US a month for a VPS server in the US which I feel is too much (I've got several different blogs and websites on not just this one). I've finally settled on Amazon AWS, and I'm quiet pleased Volume snap shots are a nice feature. So it just shows if your like me and you'll got a couple of sites ticking away take 10 minutes to have a look at the old code and make sure you weren't trying to KITS (Keeping It Too Simple)


Burswood Casino Launches New Site!

After several months of hard work I'm very happy to show off the new Burswood Casino you can see screen shots of the old one below, I'm not going to make direct comment on the old site as usual we all think our old website isn't good see this comic for more details!.and the shiny new one shown below. Key features include:

  • Wistia Powered Video Integration, videos are imported through the Wistia API and are inserted into a custom table.
  • A custom javascript slider for the home page image and video slider
  • Extensive use of the Kentico document type functionality, several different custom document type have been created to allow all aspects of the site to be content manged by the Burswood team.
  • Bizforms are used and heaps of other stuff

Over the next few weeks I'm hoping to make a few developer posts about Kentico as its one of the best CMS I've worked with. The balance between in-built and extensibility is brilliant.

Twitter Virtual yelling

I call twitter virtual yelling it's the easiest way to explain it to anyone who doesn't know what it is. A few months ago I created a twitter account to see what all the fuss is about I know I'm a little late to the game but better late than never right? Yellow pages everyone uses them right? I made a tweet the other day "does anyone actually use the yellowpages books" turns out they do "20m do everyday go to this link if you don't want to receive them" or something to that point

I think that they might be assuming that all the people that have them in their homes are using them. I'm just really not if they're using them for their intended purpose, I'd love to see the percentage of people using them as door stoppers but hey kudos to them for staying digital and keeping the finger on the pulse. Maybe they aren't as out of touch as I thought!

The Apple Web App Store: My experience

Just over a month ago I submitted my iPhone wallpapers website to the Apple web app store.You can see it here Phone Wallpapers This has been a difficult process, for the first few days the link was broken and was giving a 404 error so I resubmitted it and after several emails to the support/feedback address it was finally fixed it

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Perth Royal Show Live

For the past few months I have been working hard on a fantastic project and I'm happy to announce that the final stage is now live of the Perth Royal Show, check it out at

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