Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Ah-Ha Moment….and what comes after

09.30.2013

Two Wednesdays ago – Apple held their keynote.

The public got to hear about what developers had been privately talking about ever since WWDC. New iOS7, drastically new design, new phone colors, new cases, new everything. After all the news stories, podcasts, dinner conversations, and tweets – I will be glad if I never have to hear about iOS7 again. (side note: I do not worship at the foot of the giant golden apple like some members of LunarLincoln).

Something that I had been very vocal about, since seeing the beta iOS on Wiley’s phone weeks ago, was the lack of forethought put into the new OS.  The day-glo colors, the hyper thin fonts, the icon redesigns – some of it seemed…first draft/rookie. There were a lot of changes, and I’m not sure every single aspect had been vetted to a Job-sian standard. Now, the general public may not be as finely attuned as I am to these things and will never bat an eye at the changes, but one thing everyone DID notice was this:

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 10.33.27 AMSeriously? There are at least 5 quick fixes to this issue. – No circles, Fill in those circles, Move the circles, Move the regs, Don’t get into the case industry.

But, whats done is done. Aaaaand, why not benefit from other’s missteps?

Here comes the ah-ha moment….can’t someone just cover up the “hon”? What if the circles were frames…what if…we built an app to fix this.

IN A WEEK.

Obviously, we didn’t do it in a week. WE DID IT IN TWO. BAMMMMMMM.

I do not suggest ever building an app in two weeks if you value your free-time, sanity, household cleanliness, or personal relationships with business partners. That said, our app is currently in review and I feel pretty damn excited about it.

Things I learned when building an app in a condensed timeline:
- You don’t get to “sit” on your design. Don’t let it ruminate. Don’t edit it with the clear eyes of the next morning. Nope – slap that crap together at 11pm
- You have to edit on the fly a lot. How many times have I rebuilt the photoslider? Or resized/recolored icons – do not ask.
- To quote the Real World, you will “stop being polite and start being real” (And NO we do not need 10 tutorial screens (but I will make you one, if you just shut up uuuughhh))
- You will have to compromise on concept. Our platonic ideal is about 2 more updates down the road, but 1.0 isn’t half bad.
- There is a lot more design to an app than just UI. We need an icon, a facebook cover image, a twitter background, a website, a landing page, some mockups, a press kit. Oh hey, what about a video?
- You will lie to yourself again and again about what “almost done” really means.

We’re almost done you guys! Hopefully, the powers that be will look at our app, approve its excellence – even if it is poking at their failure – and everything can go public. Now we just have to wait and see.

I’d Pick the “Grey” iPhone 5C Despite This

09.11.2013

I’m super excited about the new iPhone 5C, but some of the new colors are just too much for me. Don’t get me wrong, the bright blue, yellow, green, and red 5C’s look great, but the grey (officially “white”) one matches my style a bit more. Someone over at Gizmodo penned a wonderful article this morning titled “What Your iPhone 5C Color Says About You“ (cached version linked, original pulled?). What was said about my pick?

Grey: You are a hipster. The grey will go well with your Moleskin and won’t clash with ANY of your rolled-up skinny jeans. You’ve been using iOS 7 since the moment it was in beta, since you’re totes a developer. You’ll refer to the color of your iPhone as ‘slate’.

Fairly spot on, except I’m not a hipster, am I? Also, I’m making it official LunarLincoln policy that we use the term ‘space grey‘ when referring to the color instead of ‘slate’.

Customizing and Integrating WordPress Blogs

09.06.2013

When we started designing LunarLincoln’s website we knew that we wanted to include a blog. I set out to find a blogging platform that would suit our needs; when I saw our hosting provider offered one-click WordPress installs, I was sold. I setup a subdomain to host the blog and had it up and running in no time. I wanted to fully integrate the blog into the website, so I did a quick Google search and found that I could pull content from WordPress using “The Loop“. Awesome, now I had a backend to handle managing the blog (it wasn’t properly themed, but we would be the only ones seeing it) and a beautifully themed front end for our visitors. I felt pretty good about this. I had successfully integrated WordPress into my website! Or had I? As we added blog posts, I kept having to add CSS rules to my for each new content type. Submitted a post with an image? Just a sec, let me put reasonable padding around that. Need to see more than 5 blog posts at a time on our website? Let me write a custom pager. Luckily the inherent laziness that has fueled so much of my engineering career kicked in and I decided there had to be a better way. I did another Google Search, digging a little deeper this time. It was amazing what I found in 15 minutes.

On most platforms, there’s the “right way” to do things and then there’s the “wrong way”. And I had inadvertently chosen the wrong way. An article from PressCoders set me straight (see Section 2: Rookie Mistakes). Turns out I didn’t have to hack WordPress to bend it to my whims, all I had to do was follow WordPress’s documentation to theme our blog correctly. Creating a custom theme in WordPress is fairly straightforward. First, find a theme that you like. Then create a child theme and override what you want to change. In our case a custom header and footer file combined with a bit of CSS did the trick. Once the theme was coded I rescued our stranded WordPress instance and moved it into a folder at our main domain. The finished product is what’s hosting this very blog post.

I’ve used this technique to help create a few other blogs as well. My good friend Chris Paz needed a video blog for his upcoming travel adventures. He uses certain design elements in his videos and wanted a blog theme to match. With his artwork I was able to set up a themed instance for him in under a day. Even Jennifer is getting into custom WordPress instances, employing no less than 2 on her newly redesigned portfolio page. What is perhaps most impressive about WordPress as a platform is that we’re all hosting different types of content. This blog is mainly for text, while Chris’s focuses on video and Jennifer’s includes works from her portfolio. It all looks great and is easy to manage, which lets us focus on creating content.

WordPress and I didn’t get along well at first and this project was a friendly reminder that I should research “the right way” to do things when I start working on a new platform. But all in I have to say I’m mighty impressed with WordPress at the moment. It feels good to ship, and I’ve gotten to help ship 3 of these blogs in the past month. Now I just need to write more blog posts…