2011 Archive

Settling on WordPress

After realizing I don’t have time to create my very own, homegrown dream static blog-publishing system, I decided to go with WordPress.

Why? Because it’s familiar, I know how to create themes for it, there’s tons of great plugins, and it can be tweaked to be exactly how I want it relatively easy. So here’s how I do mine.

Scripta Theme

I have pretty strict theme requirements. Because if I don’t like the way my website looks, I don’t want to write for it. Thankfully, WordPress is easy to theme.

I started with a fluid CSS layout, and tweaked the HTML and stylesheet until it was just what I wanted. From there I split it up into the appropriate files (header.php, footer.php, etc.), added WordPress’s PHP functions, and voilà: Scripta was born.

Scripta is extremely minimal, and probably wouldn’t suit most bloggers. The navigation has to be edited manually, it doesn’t have a sidebar, no previous/next links, and doesn’t even include the code necessary to allow comments. After all those things were stripped away, I was left with an extremely lightweight theme that not only looks great, but places perfect emphasis on my content. In fact, “scripta” is Latin for “writings”.

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First Corona SDK Hackathon Went Great. Ansca’s first-ever Corona SDK Hackathon (yesterday) couldn’t have went better.

There were tons of attendees, both local AND remote (online). People were hard at work all day (as you can see in the video—if you click the title of this blogpost).

Hetal did a great job keeping the virtual attendees “in the loop” via the UStream chat and Ansca’s twitter account during the entire event.

Carlos and Walter (Ansca’s co-founders) were there from start to finish, and many other Ansca team members (Eric, Josh, Sean, Reiko, Alix, Tom, and Gilbert) were there for many hours mingling with the attendees and also providing help when needed.

I was there (with Biffy!) to help anyone with any Corona-related questions or challenges they were having trouble with. And while I did end up helping a handful of folks, for the most part, it seemed like just about everyone knew what they were doing—even those who were just recently introduced to Corona!

Towards the end of the event, I was in the room when the winners were being chosen, and let me tell you, it was a difficult decision because of the sheer quality of submissions that came through. We were all blown away by what people were able to do in just 12 hours (less if you include any breaks they might’ve taken).

What might be done to fix Dell?. Ben Brooks:

It’s interesting just how far Dell has fallen and how little value that name carries in today’s consumer mind. Dell is not only taking a beating from Apple, but HP has its own OS for mobile now and Google has its own hardware company for mobile now — Dell is getting hammered from every angle.

Michael Dell, in 1997:

“What would I do?” Mr. Dell said to an audience of several thousand information technology managers. “I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.”

Ouch.

Year of the Copycats?. It’s the year of the copycats alright, just not the year they sell very much.

(via Shawn Blanc)

HP Needs to do Something with webOS. Personally, I wish webOS was iOS’s closest competitor. Now that Google may have scared off those who jumped on the Android bandwagon, maybe this is HP’s chance:

Given the fears that some have over what Google’s control of Motorola could mean for other Android makers, some have suggested the deal might leave the door open for HP to get more aggressive about licensing its webOS to other device makers.

But…

Indeed, licensing webOS would put phone makers in the same position they may find themselves in with Google — that is, competing against the same company whose software they are using. This, tech historians note, is not something that has tended to work well in the tech industry.

The problem is, if HP can figure out a way around that problem, then so could Google… and there would be no reason for manufacturers to switch from Android.

(via Carlos Icaza)

Solar Powered Mac Keyboard by Logitech. This keyboard addresses my number one complaint about wireless anything (which is why my keyboard and mouse are both wired), which is, the need to swap out the batteries.

Behold, the Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 for Mac:

According to the company, even standard indoor lighting is enough to charge the keyboard, and with a full charge, the K750 can operate for three months in total darkness. Which means that in real-world use, you should never have to worry about running out of juice.

Sounds very impressive. I just might try one of these out.

Freemium Games are Here to Stay. Flurry published some interesting statistics they’ve gathered about mobile games regarding in-app payments in freemium titles.

The title of the article, “Freemium Mobile Gamers Spend Most Money on Items They Don’t Keep”, really makes it sound as though it’s pointless for users to be spending their money on “in-game money”. Admittedly, it sounds very strange. Even the highly insightful Ben Brooks of The Brooks Review commented:

This is astonishing to me and being that I am not in the group that plays these types of games, I just can’t see the motivation to buy in-app currency to use — especially knowing that I will have to buy it again at some point.

I think that although much of what users are buying are “consumable”, much like a candy bar, what they get in return is something permanent within the game—unlike a candy bar. So whether it’s further progress, or an item they get to keep for the duration of their quest, or a new level, people for the most part seem to be happy to pay for virtual goods, and that’s great news for game developers.

The article also includes some great insight on what types of items seem to sell better than others, so it’s a highly recommended read for anyone who is planning on developing a freemium game anytime in the near future. Here’s an inspiring bit for that group:

With Flurry estimating that total U.S. iOS and Android game revenue will surpass $1 billion in 2011, game developers should understand what consumers spend the majority of their money on. As a business model, freemium games are here to stay.

And as an aside for the mobile devs out there, Corona SDK developers can easily leverage Flurry’s analytics service, as well as a wide range of ways to monetize their apps (including in-app purchases, offer-based virtual currency, banner ads, and more).

(via The Brooks Review)

What Platform Will They Choose?. There’s lots of speculation on the fate of Android, since Google themselves are a competitor to other licensors of Android. Here’s a theory:

Handset makers spend around a year developing new phones and so in the short term, not much will change in terms of their Android phone releases, Hazelton said. But handset makers are surely today taking a look at phones that are in the pipeline. “People are probably going back to the drawing board saying, hey, will we launch this Android device,” he said.

But the question remains, what platform will they go with?

Windows phone seems like the only viable candidate, but that surely calls for drastic business changes considering Android is freely available, and Windows is not.

Samsung does have their own platform, bada, which I can definitely see them pursuing more now (why did they even bother with Android in the first place?). From what I’ve seen though, it looks like it could use a lot of polish if it wants to compete with the likes of Apple’s iOS and HP’s webOS—that could be why they decided to go with Android for now.

As for HTC, I don’t believe they have their own platform. If I were the CEO of that company, I’d take my current Android-phone profits and invest in my own platform. All the cool kids are doing it, so why not?

Steve Jobs Biography Details. Originally slated for a 2012 release, the target date is now November of this year:

Isaacson also clarified to Elmer-DeWitt the moving forward of the publication date was not due to any health concerns or decline. The book was mostly completed in June, and is now “all done and edited”.

It will surely be an interesting biography to read.

Your Email is Not a Filing Cabinet. Dave Caolo at 52Tiger:

Today I visited someone with over 1,800 messages in her email inbox. They weren’t unread. The messages were being stored there. It took her 12 minutes to find the message she wanted to show me.

If the above sounds like you, then his short article is definitely worth a read.

I skim my inbox throughout the day, respond to urgent messages right away, and then periodically process what’s left at least once a day. Things that still require some kind of action on my part, but aren’t able to be accomplished quite yet go into a ‘Pending Action’ folder.

As an aside, I recently just discovered 52Tiger, as well as Forkbombr, and they are already ranking very high on my “favorite RSS feeds” list.

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