On the evening of May 8th, at the Marriott Richmond, the 18th Annual Richmond Technology Awards were held in celebration of the many breakthroughs, advancements and outstanding technologists Richmond has to offer. As Richmond’s “Academy Awards” of Technology, the Gala hosts over 600 of the area’s tech giants with eight award categories. The awards presented included The Community Catalyst Award, The Emerging Company Award, The Technology Builder Award, The Innovation in Development Award, The Innovation in Utilization Award, The Educator Award, The RichTech Chairman’s Award, and most importantly The People’s Choice Award.
As a part of the event we were thrilled to develop a cross platform voting app for the People’s Choice Award. Armed with smart phones, and laptops the public was able to vote for the winner of the award with just a push a button from their Android, iOS, or internet connected devices. During a period of less than 24 hours surrounding the Gala we had over 1,500 votes total across all 3 platforms (iOS, Android, and Web).
We would like to congratulate TCSC for taking home People’s Choice Award, with an astounding 862 votes.
The finalist as well as a more detailed description of each award can be found on Richtech’s event site.
Motor Mouth combines the experience and fun of the CB radio days with modern smartphone technology to allow drivers to share their thoughts, observations, and warnings to other drives anonymously. Just upload a short voice message, submit it, and the message appears no the global map, tagged to the exact location that you left it. Warn other drivers about construction or potholes, or just leave a thought about the scenery!
Letter Lasso is a touch-based game for iPhone and iPad. Players are presented a jumble of moving letters and must identify a word, grab the letters, and attach them in the correct order tin order to win points and move to the next word. The words come in packs divided up by category, such as “fruit” or “US Presidents”. These categories also serve as the primary clue for finding the proper word.
The game is designed not only to be a fun and immersive touch-based gaming experience, but also a powerful learning tool. Kids of all ages can use the game to learn new words and how to spell them, becoming a fun tool for spelling tests, learning new languages, or just expanding your vocabulary.
If you were around then, you remember seeing them. Lonely kiosks, gathering dust, cast aside in the corner of a hotel lobby or government office, their one dead eye staring out dark and lifeless. The once mighty cyclops of the computing world, what IBM believed would be THE way the public gained access to electronic goods and services — rendered a corpse — and a grim reminder of what fate will befall your mobile app should you fail to heed the lessons of the lonely kiosk debacle of the 90′s .
What kills technology based initiatives? Two things: A failure to deliver value, and failures in usability. Kiosks that have survived into the present day deliver superb value and are superbly easy to use, and we use them all them time. The airline ticketing kiosk. Redbox. The ATM. But what about those goofy “info only” kiosks that gave us a map to a restaurant that closed six months ago? Or those whose UI made us want to smash them with a baseball bat like in the famous fax machine scene from “Office Space”? Cue “Still” by Geto Boys. Those kiosks died a just death, and rightly so.
History repeats itself, as they say, and so today we see mobile apps that make all the same mistakes of the 90′s. But this too shall pass, and those apps will too. In 20 years we will will look back and it will all make sense. Apps that survive, nay, thrive, will be those that deliver value consistently, reliably, and easily, and that are compelling and “insanely” easy to pick up and use. Thriving apps will enable those line of business services that are in the critical path of a company’s strategy, essential to its customers, designed for ease-of-use, and built to last.
The question is:: Will your mobile app be one of them?
There are now a multitude of device resolutions and densities running iOS, how can you make sure your content appears how you want it to appear regardless of which device your users have? This is, of course, one of the trickier areas for mobile applications. Fortunately, Titanium Studio has tools to help us attack this problem. Initially I thought that the DisplayCaps properties I could access through the Titanium API would produce the exact pixel dimensions of the device my App was running on. Upon a more careful inspection of the Titanium documentation these properties will produce values of “density-independent pixels (dip) on iOS”. I went ahead and ran a few tests on the simulator to determine what values I would receive on each device:
Ti.API.info(“height: ” + Ti.Platform.displayCaps.platformHeight);
Ti.API.info(“width: ” + Ti.Platform.displayCaps.platformWidth);
iPad (non-retina): height: 1024 width: 768
iPad (retina): height: 1024 width: 768
iPhone (non-retina): height: 480 width: 320
iPhone (3.5 inch retina): height: 480 width: 320
iPhone (4 inch retina): height: 568 width: 320
Also keep in mind that the values are relative the the orientation of the UI (not necessarily the physical orientation of the device). Another useful property of Ti.Platform is the dpi property which can provide useful information about whether the device has a retina display or not. This information helped clear up some issues for me and enabled me to better plan layouts for multiple devices, I hope the information was helpful for your App Development as well!
If there’s one thing that hasn’t changed for me from the first day I started writing code until today, about my 500th day, it’s that not knowing where to start is incredibly intimidating. I acutely remember the panic of learning HTML and having no idea how to get my divs to go where I wanted them to go. The concept of setting up a grid system made sense to me, but the execution eluded me for days.
My relief finally came when I had the greatest realization of my young coding life: good lord, there is working code everywhere! It’s all over the internet! Just find it, copy it, and see how it works and you’re golden! I became a Google, “view source”, and “inspect element” maestro over night, learning structures and logics by reading other people’s successful executions. And for a while, this was all I needed. I needed to learn such basic things that just reading and seeing how other people’s code executed then editing it to fit my needs was the best thing for me. However, as my skills improved, I found myself lacking the skill to write code from scratch as elegantly as I wanted to. So I started a new system: instead of coping other people’s code, I type it out.
When Hunter S. Thompson was working as a copy boy at Time Magazine in 1959, he spent his spare time typing out the entire Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway in order to better understand what it feels like to write a great book. To be able to feel the author’s turns in logic and storytelling weren’t possible from reading the books alone, you had to feel what it feels like to actually create the thing. And so I have found it to be with coding.
And it’s working. It’s awesome. I suggest you try it.
Nobody ever learned to become a great writer just by reading books, you’ve got to feel it.
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If you’ve heard anything about software development in the last five years, you’ve probably heard someone talk about “knowing your user” or “putting the user first”. The massive growth of Apple in the last decade has shone a massive spotlight on relentless user focus and has caused developers at companies large and small to re-think their priorities and put usability first. However, if knowing your user is so important, what do you do when you don’t know or have anything in common with your user?
Recently, we were approached and hired to develop an application for a group of users that fits that description perfectly: non-tech savvy grandmothers and grandfathers. The gist of the app is to make it easier for them to access a specific kind of content that they have on their computers easily and quickly on their smartphones. What makes this task so interesting is that it’s not about facilitating them to do something they can’t already do: a user with any amount of tech savvy could accomplish this task with relative ease. It’s about making it so somebody with almost NO knowledge of the technology they’re using can transfer and easily access this content with getting overly frustrated.
This task is 100% about knowing your user and catering to their needs by making existing technology more useable. The problem is, I’m a developer, capable of not only using difficult applications, but creating them from scratch. I pride myself on being a mid-adopter who is in touch with his “how I open Word again?” roots, but going into the project I found myself wondering if I really could adequately put myself in the shoes of someone who thinks opening Safari just opens Google and that Firefox opens the Internet.
So I did the only thing I could do: I talked to my own grandmother, creator of the aforementioned “Safari=Google” theory. She told me about using her computer and what she hates about it, and it was eye opening. She hates the updates and the clutter. She only wants to send and receive email, check her bank account, and use Google and that’s it. If there were 3 icons on her screen: Email with just an in and out box, her bank account, and Google that would be perfect. So even though she CAN access those 3 things from any web browser that exists, that’s not really sufficient: it’s not easy enough and browsers are too cluttered with, well, the internet.
My eyes opened, I now undertake the task of making her vision of simplicity and ease of access a reality, at least for one type of content. Wish me luck (I’m going to need it).
NFL Kicker 13 | $.99
Football season is finally upon us and thanks to NFL Kicker you don’t have to wait for Sunday to get your football fix. NFL Kicker 13 is latest and greatest football kicking game that will immediately suck you in with its high resolution graphics and leave you playing for hours with its addictive game play. You can compete with facebook friends and play as your favorite teams to level up with experience points and unlock new game modes. The game is hard to put down because it’s not just about making the field goal but getting that high score in the face of 20 mph winds with over 60 yards cover. Shockoe highly recommends this app not just to football fans but to anybody who wants to satisfy their competitive gaming needs on their mobile device.
Dropbox | Free
Keeping all your things together is what Dropbox does best. Now you can stay organized on the go with the Dropbox App and access all your photos, videos, and documents with the touch of a finger. With Dropbox you don’t have to worry about which computer you are on or carrying your flash drive with you everywhere you go. The app allows users to sync their phone up to their own personal cloud storage and save photos and videos. Users can now easily save email attachments and edit documents at their own convenience. Shockoe believes in utilizing the power of cloud services and highly recommends this mobile App to anyone wants to stay connected with their things without the baggage of physical storage device.