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BarCamp Graz 2011

Conferences are an interesting diversion from the daily work as an iOS developer. BarCamps are the same, but they are not classical conferences in the sense that an organizer takes care of everything and you can simply consume. Rather at a bar camp you bring your own content. That’s why they are also referred to as un-conferences.

I visited my first such event in Graz, let me give you some of my impressions. Welcome to the BarCamp Graz 2011.

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Saturday Morning, Breakfast, Wired eMag

I’ve always loved to read glossy tech magazines. In fact I feared that I would like them too much to be unable to throw them away. When I was young I had an extensive collection of P.M. (a German popular science mag) that came right to fill the hole that selling my Mickey Mouse collection had left. So I wend cold turkey, no subscription only buying on vacations, as to avoid assembling high towering stacks of paper.

With the iPad I fulfilled my first dream of having a PADD like Jean Luc Piccard, so it was no question that I had to purchase the first digital WIRED app/magazine that came out last week. Many people rambled about the price tag, $4, but I think that’s fair, because you get way more value than you would in paper. Let me share my impressions and let’s peek under the hood of the first eMag that deserves to be called that.

Sipping a fresh espresso with a bit of cream, browsing through the Wired eMagazine. Let’s have a look at how it is to read it and look behind the scenes to see what we can learn from it as iPhone/iPad developers. Maybe there’s an eMagazine of our own in our future?

UPDATE: Here’s Adobe’s Promo for the Magazine. Adobe has announced that soon there will be software on Adobe Labs to do do what they did for WIRED for any InDesign publication.

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Smart Developers track their Best Apps with MyAppSales

Sure, you should be doing your coding mostly because you enjoy it and only secondarily for the money. But it’s no sin to get a kick out of checking yesterday’s sales report and seeing how well your babies are performing. My aim for MyAppSales is to be the preferred mobile tool for this purpose.

I lost track some months ago, but I estimate my user base to be around 250 people worldwide. Because I am distributing MyAppSales as source code only this automatically requires users to have at least some fleeting knowledge of how to download source code from a Subversion repository. This is called “positive preselection”. That’s one of the reasons why I can hypothesize that MyAppSales users are smarter than the average Cocoa Touch developer.

I am proud of my baby and I was interested to learn which of the multitude of apps which are being tracked with MyAppSales are considered by their makers to be their crowning achievement . So I’ve asked my customers via Twitter which of their apps they deem to be their masterpiece (so far) and today I’m proudly presenting the best apps of the smartest developers to prove the hypothesis from this article’s title. I call this …

MyAppSalesMyAppSales Users’ App Showcase

Entires are sorted in order of submission. All wordings and descriptions are verbatim. The statements are not meant to be reviews but to illustrate which skills, talent and knowledge need to come together to make what a developer has the right to call “his best app”.

So what are those super powers? You’re about to find out …

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Can Retro Survive the App Store?

Many of the typical iPhone users of today can remember the infancy of video games. First we went to arcades to play simple games made up of sprites or vectors. Many coins went into the slots that allowed you to play. Later companies like Nintendo started to make “Game&Watch” games which you could take with you. Their technical basis would always be an LCD screen where otherwise translucent areas would be made black opaque by electronics to manifest game characters. Movement would consist of several such on/off graphics switched in succession.

The iPhone and iPod Touch devices from today have orders of magnitude more computational power and for a modern game to be successful it has to feature fancy graphics, action and 3D. Or does it? I had a look at two games that like to be correlated to the “Retro” category while at the same time claiming to add “a new twist”. I was intrigued by such a bold statement and thus I am reviewing both apps in this article.

Have a look at those two candidate games and let me know if you think that Retro can be a viable category of games on the store. Or is it the past and should we be glad that it’s over?

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Charitable Coding

When his son Roel was diagnosed with Autism 3 years ago, his father (also named Roel) researched possibilities to help him improve the quality of his life and discovered Righteous Pups Australia. This organization trains Autism Assistance Dogs (AAD) which are especially trained to help increase self-esteem, independence and overall well-being of the autistic dog owner.

As we know in IT, training costs money and those dogs need lots of it. About 29.000 AU$ to be exact. That’s approximately the price of 10 luxury MacBook Pros… kind of puts my own financial challenges into a different perspective.

OzSlangNow Roel has published his first app, an Australian slang dictionary dubbed OzSlang. This is a fun and essential tool for everyone who likes to brush up his OZ Slang skills to not stick out like “such a tourist” or to generally sound more like “Crocodile Dundee”.

I think you can see that the maker put a lot of love into it, it is very well made. Roel tells me that 100% of his proceeds (minus Apple’s cut) go to the above mentioned organization so that eventually the cost for a dog for his son can be covered. The details can be found on Paws 4 Roel website.

It was especially disheartening for Roel when he learned that his app had been pirated. The sales dropped and prospects for an AAD for his son deteriorated. Who can now still argue for piracy as a means of getting “trialware”? Very few (if any at all) of the people who download OzSlang from warez sites would eventually contribute to the cause.

In my book you don’t rip off charitable products especially if they are at the lowest price possible. That’s simply bad karma. If you burglarize the donation box, don’t complain if your future projects fail. That’s how karma works.. On the other hand if you want to get karmically ahead or even, it’s as easy as purchasing a copy of this app. :-)

With his next app, which is currently under review by Apple, Roel will try a different approach. Make the app free, but include a charity button. We know that Apple does not like to see money is moving where they don’t get their 30% share. But I’m keeping my fingers that they won’t mind a donation button for charity.

You can do something good by either donating directly, contacting Roel about sponsoring opportunities or purchasing OzSlang via iTunes. If your contribution is a sizable one I will throw in an hour’s worth of iPhone Development consulting for free to be used any way you like. Good Karma anyone?

MyAppSales Video Demonstration

Right after I e-mailed him the source code for MyAppSales, Moshe Malka responded:

OH MY GOD!
This Application is Extremely AMAZING!
“It puts AppSales Mobile in the trash bin!”

Do you mind If I review this app on my YouTube? — And I Guarantee this wont be a bad one! – Cause I am Flipping off at the amazing work!
Keep it up!

Of course I welcomed this. Long have I been longing for somebody to show the beauty and speed of MyAppSales in a video. Thank you Moshe!

You Have All The Trumps … in one single XCode Project!

I recently helped Andreas Heck to unify 4 of his projects into a single one. Before this intervention he would copy the project from a previous “Super Trumps” app and modify parts of it to fit the new theme. But of course this would multiply the effort necessary to do updates with every iteration of the process.

Top Trumps Cars Top Trumps Guns
Top Trumps Bikes Top Trumps Aircraft

It was for this surgery that I researched and discovered the method of Target-specific Headers and many of the techniques in this article about compiling for 2.x and 3.0 from the same project. Now he can happily concentrate on just collecting artwork and information for new sets and can keep 95% of his code unchanged.

Andreas Heck is doing beautiful work on the contents of his apps, you can purchase them by clicking on the images above. Now that his first 4 “Super Trumps” games are live on the app store I checked up on them on Applyzer because I was interested which geographic preferences could be gleaned.
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App Charts for May 12th

These are the current hottest apps in the whole wide iPhone World for today. Ranking data is provided by Applyzer.com a site that is promising to provide ranking information that you can get nowhere else.
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Peer Reviews

Several people have followed my call for peer reviewing each others apps. With a US iTunes account you can take part in this networking activity yourself. You might get much more valuable feedback then from regular customers.

Here are all the apps I had a look at so far. Sorry guys for taking so long, but my US iTunes account is on my Windows PC which I avoid to turn on whenever possible. ;-)

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Geolocated Distributed iPhone Developer Database

Tonight I fore-went (is this a legal word?) my Cocoa coding time to write this very article about a topic that has begun to burn in my heart and I just have to get it out into cyberspace to get a diskussion going.

You and me and lots of other iPhone developers have strenghts and weeknesses. Some of us can code really well, others are great at design and there are also some people who excel at marketing iPhone apps. There are some commonalities amongst us as well, besides of 99% having a physical iPhone and 66% using twitter to build their network. We all have Internet, as benign as this may sound. We all have websites that have some information on the apps we have in the app store. We are advertising ourselves to the world. Hoping to get noticed. Looking for help. Or simply looking to make as much money as possible with the jewels they have polished in endless hours.

Static, non-machine-readable HTML. Sometimes even worse: Flash! Looking great, but achieving nothing except a good feeling for the person who created it. But that’s just Web 1.0

A few of us took the next evolutionary step and started to write in forums (the official one as well as the largest non-official one) and get business-centric profiles on facebook or Xing. That’s Web 2.0.

But still those are information silos, you don’t own your posts, you don’t own your content on “social networks”. I say “That’s passé!” Here I am proposing Web 3.0 and all participating iPhone developers will benefit.

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