Category Archives: Writing

Using Dabble to plotline my next story

After finishing NaNoWriMo, I started working on a second story. Same characters and universe. The first story just kind of fell out as I wrote it, it told itself.

The sequel isn’t following suit.

A friend of mine recently released a writing app called Dabble. and while it’s not quite what I want in a writing app (Scrivener sets a high bar), it recently added a feature I’ve fallen in love with .

Enter the Plotline. 

Dabble's awesome plotline viewBeing able to lay out plot points and see the whole story is great!

I already had the first few chapters down, and kept going back and tweaking them, as I wasn’t happy with how things were flowing.

I’ve only gotten about a third or so in, and will likely change much as I go, but so far good.

 

What’s nice is Dabble is a work in progress and Jacob is awesome :) The other night as I was working, I realized I had to scroll up quite a bit to see the title of each column, so I submitted an idea to freeze the top of the screen.

Shortly after I hit ‘submit’ Jacob and I were chatting about the idea.

If you’re looking for a lightweight, straightforward writing app, take a look at Dabble and help craft it into the perfect app.

I won NaNoWriMo 2016

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_winnerIt only took ten years, but I finally won NaNoWriMo.

If you’re not familiar it’s National Novel Writing Month. The goal is start Nov. 1, and by the end of Nov. 30 have 50,000 words written.

Every year for the last ten years I’ve at least done something. Some years it’s been open the site, be too busy to dedicate myself to writing, and close the site. Some years I’ve started writing, either something new, or picked up something I’d started randomly in the year. I’d get various amounts of words in, miss a day, then two, then four then I’d see that I was so far behind the average per day needed to win, I’d give up. Ten Years.

This year, my friend Tom and I both decided we’d do it again, both agreed to give it our all. I was especially motivated because a few months before Tom had shared a manuscript he wrote some 15 odd years before, and after reading it, I was more energized to create my own.

capture-2016-12-01-at-12-33-32-pmI don’t know what was different this year, other than being a bit lighter than usual on “stuff to do” work wise. But I was able to start strong, and even when I fell behind a few times, it was never so much so that it became impossible.

I actually thought I’d crush it over thanksgiving, but did the exact opposite, then when I was in the final week, the little author dashboard on the NaNoWriMo site was like at this pace you’ll finish on Dec. 2. “SO CLOSE” So I made time, and pushed through. I crossed the “finish” line around noonish on the last day.

I think one factor of the win was that I finally found an app I enjoyed using to write. I’ve tried most every app out there aimed at authors, and haven’t loved any. Some of come close, some haven’t, some have simply gone away. Scrivener, is here to stay, the iPad app is great for when I wanted to try to add a few more words but didn’t have my laptop, the Mac app is fairly intuitive to use.

Until the last week, I wasn’t sure I’d finish on time or finish at all. I have to say I’m pretty darned pleased with myself. My plan is to let it sit a week or two, then go back over the story with an eye for cleaning things up. Then anyone who’s interested may read it (warning it’s Sci Fi). Then Maybe I’ll toss it up on Amazon. Who knows.

Any how, wanted to share, because like I said, I’m pretty pleased with myself.

I built an app.

IMG_0627Ok I didn’t. I guess I product managed an app :)

Tom and his team worked with me on “Edit Me“. I’ve helped get lots of apps launched (no shortage of 360|iDev and Flex apps out there, that I helped with), but this is the first “not a conference attendees app” app.

Edit Me, serves a real purpose. Ever had a text message, tweet, Facebook post, etc  that you wanted to run by someone before sending? Maybe you’re a bit too heated, maybe too sad. Maybe just to check your tone, or make sure it’s not wildly offensive, etc. Or just to have a friend proof read it for you. Well that’s what we set out to solve with Edit Me.

The idea is pretty straightforward, i’ve got some short form text i want to run by someone before sending it, (Flying Spaghetti Monster knows I often need it)

3-5_1You fire up Edit me, pick your friend who’ll be the editor, throw in a title, and add your text. Off it goes. What’s cool is you and/or the recipient don’t need to register, the exchanges and notifications are bound to device not yet another set of user credentials. When they get the email it’s got an app URL (if they don’t there’s a link to get the app first) and it’ll pull up what needs to be edited.

Something more robust like users may come later, same for more granular edits, right now you offer up your edits and they’re accepted or rejected en masse. There’s no (yet) “Change this word or sentence” it’s “here’s my version of the entire text you sent” even if the change is only one or two words. We wanted to launch what we thought was the most useful version one we could, with plans to do a lot more cool things to the app as we go.

4_5I’m really excited about Edit Me, and find it really useful.

We also want to make a Mac version, which I think is going to be even more useful. While I do often need short form editing/proof reading, I do that a lot more on my mac than my iDevices.

Price: Not free. We went with $.99 because well free isn’t a sustainable model. We think Edit Me has value and utility, and is worth something. Plus really, isn’t not saying something stupid on the internet worth $.99?

NO IAP. While I won’t use the blanket “IAP is the devil” I will say when I am looking for new apps and games, seeing the “Contains In-App Purchase” label makes me think twice before even tapping to see the details. We wanted to make an app that was useful as it is, and requires no extra purchase.

If you’ve ever sat and looked at your messages, twitter or facebook app, and wondered “Should I send this, is mom going to get mad?” Edit Me is probably worth $.99 to you. Because then you could easily ask your sister or friend.

I Am Not Busy

I’ve talked about being busy before. Lately it’s kind of come back around again with a post in of the NYT titled “The ‘Busy’ Trap”

I’m not busy. When a friend says “let’s go get coffee” I go. When my wife IM’s and asks if I want to take a walk, I go. When Bike to work day happens, I ride in it. When there’s a party in a park, I go to it. When an opportunity to take a trip with my wife comes up, I take it. I get my work done though. It just doesn’t consume me.

I run my own business, two of them actually. If anyone should be busy I could argue it’s me. But I’m not. Do I have things to do? Yes many of them. Do I need to put in 16 hour days? nope. Do i tell anyone who’ll listen how much work i put in on a daily basis? No that’s never even crossed my mind.If anything I’ve tweeted from time to time some accomplishment I’m proud of. Some result of work.

I know many folks, especially in my programmer circles might not agree, and when I wrote code for a living I spent many a day working 16+ hours. Not by choice. I never thought it was the right approach, but then it wasn’t my choice.

I have friends who constantly tweet a complaint like this “20 hours of X, time for bed, or maybe I’ll stay up” or some variation on the theme. Like the article above points out, these folks are staying up, never sleeping etc, because they take on too many things. Knowing some of these offenders I suspect the article is right, they simply wouldn’t know what to do with free time. These are often the “I don’t have time to read” types as well.

I don’t mean this post to be an attack on anyone at all, but to point out the simple fact (the one I made way back) we’re all busy with our lives, and if you’re THAT busy, you’re doing it wrong. And also, no one else cares, or is keeping tabs for future brownie point awarding.

 

Enjoy your life.

The problem with eBook pricing

I saw this NYT blog post and retweeted it (props to @datingdad) with “Good for amazon”

My friend Dave (@courier_new) asked some questions clarifying my position, so I thought I’d write my thoughts up (not new here, check the eBooks category) in a bit more than 140 chars.

Publishers are fighting companies like Amazon on eBook pricing. Many have won with agency pricing. Agency pricing lets the publisher set the price and more often than not you see this.

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Best thing i ever bought. Thank you cards

This morning I’ve been writing thank-you cards. One of the best business purchases I’ve ever made (Thanks Nicole!!) was a whole buttload of blank 360|Conferences thank you cards.

Not only do we mail them after each conference to speakers and sponsors, but we use them through out the year. Right now I’m writing thank you’s for 360|MacDev speakers for a nice surprise I have for them. I’m also writing “I’m Sorry” cards for some mistakes in billing from 360|iDev to certain speakers. I’ve also sent them out when special thanks is required and an email just isn’t the right mode. I’m not some “paper is dying, we have to save it!” luddite, but there is something meaningful in the process of writing someone a note on paper and mailing it.

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My Xoom review

I’ve been meaning to write this for a few days, and decided I just need to sit down and do it. Be aware, this review has no pics. There’s so many pics of the Xoom and the iPad out there, there’s just no need for them now. We all know what a tablet looks like now.

 

OK here’s my thoughts on the Xoom…

The short: I like it, I like it a lot. I’ve been using it almost exclusively since my friend and colleague Jeffy Houser gave it to me for my work on The Flex Show. It’s no iPad but it’s nice.

The Long version:

OS: Honeycomb seems like a great OS. Google shoulda been working on it sooner, and needs to stop dicking around trying to port it to a phone. Rock tablets, and let Honeycomb’s successor be the 1 OS for both.

It’s got some rough spots, but overall I’ve found it to be a great Tablet OS. I had a Viewsonic gTablet and tried 2.2 and 2.3 on it. Clearly neither OS was made for Tablets, so the experience sucked! But the Xoom, feels and works like a tablet should.

The widgets rock, the transitions between screens are very nice, and clean.

 

Apps (marketplace): Point, Apple. I admit, most of the apps on my iPhone and iPad, I can live without, some I never even open after installing or using once. However, right now, there are like 62 apps made for honeycomb. Not 1 is a twitter app!!

Many of the apps for the Xoom, are stupid, so being available doesn’t really do much. Thankfully google does a better job at upscaling than Apple does, so phone apps, mostly don’t look like ass on the Xoom, assuming they work

Say what you will about Apple and the iOS Store, the Google marketplace is pretty much like Dave Chappelle predicted. Amazon has cleaned up the mess a bit, but they’re not there yet.

I’ve been pretty happy with the Xoom app wise, not really missing most iOS apps. Here’s the ones I miss and why.

  • OmniFocus – I’ve invested in their offering. It’s on my iPhone, iPad, and mac. Making todo lists, etc is nice when they’re shared across devices.
  • Flipboard – I’ve got Pulse, and Newsr but Flipboard and Reeder were my goto apps and I do miss them. NetNewsWire too for that matter. My iPad was mainly remote desktop, and news reading.

That’s really it. There’s a few others I’d like to have on the Xoom for sure, but if any combo of those three apps made it to the Xoom I’d be cool.

 

Ecosystem: Win, Apple. Obviously lock in is a big part of this picture, and Apple certainly gains nothing by cooperating, but not having a viable iTunes replacement is a huge loss for the Xoom, and android in general. There’s DoubleTwist which is ok, but nothing remotely close to the awesome experience Apple offers. I will give Double Twist props for the over the Air syncing. Apple, really you shoulda figured this out already.

But yeah I STILL haven’t gotten any of my pics onto the Xoom. There’s not USB host support yet (fail) and Double Twist does music and sorta, video only. Even the Dropbox app doesn’t support saving an image from dropbox to the local storage. I could do some wifi FTP stuff, but that’s just too much work as far as I’m concerned.

Other Tablets: Apple needs competition, so does Motorola. But more importantly, if Google hopes to make some headway against Apple, with Tablets, they need to have more devices out there. Motorola did a good job with the Xoom, but I think someone can do better.

Plus if they (Motorola and Google, etc) hope to get developers interested in building apps for Tablets, there needs to be more devices out there to run them. I suspect part of the reason there’s only 63 apps is that many developers don’t want to waste their time, if there’s a chance the OS could change or google could scrap it entirely (GoogleTV anyone?)

 

So verdict? If you’re ok not having many apps right now (the main ones are there. Evernote, a nice VNC app, tweetdeck sorta works, Firefox, dropbox, etc), and can survive without iTunes-like desktop love. The Xoom might be a fun device for you. The OS is certainly more computer-y which I like, but it’s definitely an easy device to use. Easy as an iPad, no. Easy enough for a non moron? Yes.

Like I said, i’ve been leaving my iPad at home the last two weeks, and am surviving quite well. I haven’t gifted my ipad to Nicole yet, so I have the option to go back, but honestly, with an iPhone, not sure I will.