2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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How to Make an iPhone App (For Non-Technical People) A re-blog.

Before I start, I just want to make a point of mentioning that I personally did not write this article. I just felt that because of the quality of the article, it should be re-blogged for more people to see. You can see the original by clicking here.

You have a great concept for a new iPhone application. Your idea is unique, fun and useful, and you are almost certain nothing like it already exists. In fact, your application might be the next Pandora or Instagram.

There is just one tiny problem – you don’t know how to program, let alone make an iPhone app.

You may be ready to dive right into building your app. Don’t. Design and development are just one-step in the path to a successful mobile application.

Whether it’s an iPhone app or an app for Android, Windows or Blackberry, it’s important to take the time to define:

  1. Why you’re building the app
  2. Who will use it
  3. What it will include and how you will build it
  4. When you plan on completing it

This may seem like a waste of time and effort, but attempting to build an app without understanding exactly what, why and how you are creating it, is like driving a car blindfolded. You probably won’t get very far, and you’ll likely look silly doing it.

This article will walk you through how to actually create the app as well as explain the why, who, what, how, and when of app creation.

1. Why and Who

If the only answer you have to the questions, why are you building an app and who will use it is, “Everyone, because it will be awesome!” You have some thinking to do.

Your application should appeal to some audience for some specific reason.

In simpler terms, why would anyone want to use or buy your application? As successful entrepreneur and venture capital mentor Jason Cohen wrote, “If you can’t find ten people who’ll say they’ll buy it, your company is bullsh*t.”

Although this may be a little harsh, it is more than a little true.

Hundreds of thousands of iPhone applications already exist. Unless yours has some special value proposition, no one will download it, and they certainly won’t buy it. The same is true for every mobile environment.

2. What and How

Once you really understand why you are creating your application and for who, the next step is to detail what you will be building and how. You probably have a general idea of what you would like to build. However, to construct an application, you need to know exactly what features your application will support. Understanding who will use your app and what’s important to these users (which you’ve already completed) makes this task much easier. Detailing “the what and how” requires that you:

  • Define the features your application will support. You should know what every screen will contain and what every button will do and why.
  • Decide which mobile devices you will support. Sure, you began by wanting to build an iPhone application, but what about iPad, the many flavors of Android and Blackberry, or even Windows mobile devices?
  • Determine if you will build a web or a native application. Users must download and install native apps, which allows the software to access the mobile devices’ data and features (e.g., the camera). In contrast, mobile web applications require no install and have very limited access to the actual mobile device.
  • Decide how you will market your application. Mobile development is not a field of dreams; just because you build it, they may not come. There are many choices for publicizing your application’s existence: advertising, hiring a public relations team, content marketing, social campaigns and many more. Determine what’s practical for you.
  • Determine if and how you will monetize your application. If this application is part of a business, this is a very important step. Selling your app in the Apple store is great, but remember they take 30% of revenue from each sale. If your app costs $1.00, you only see $0.70 from each sale. You can also choose to embed advertising or charge a reoccurring subscription fee. If you want to make money, take the time to define exactly how you will do it.
  • Decide how you will test the application once it is complete. Testing is critical. Nothing can kill your application’s chance for success quite as fast as pages of bad reviews about buggy software. First impressions are everything, especially when it comes to mobile software. There are several ways to find willing beta testers, pick one (or more).

3. When

Once you have defined what you are going to build, create a development plan. A development plan documents all the decisions you’ve made about what you’re building, your schedule, what tools you’ll use, who else you need (e.g., maybe you need a designer to help you with the screens) and the expected cost. Although they may sound complex, it doesn’t have to be a long stylized document; it can be as simple as bullet points on a white board that you capture with a camera.

A development plan will help you hold yourself accountable and keep you moving toward your goals, while staying on budget.

4. Building the Application

Now that you have created a road map and plan to create the app, it is time to build it. Since you took the time to plan it out, this part will make more sense to either yourself or the developer (if you are outsourcing the actual build). Now’s the time to roll up your sleeves and start building.

Zero-Code Mobile Application Builders

Armed with a clearly defined purpose and roadmap, you are ready to create your mobile application. Although you are non-technical, you have several options.

An entire market of tools exists to create and publish mobile applications without touching a single line of code. This seems promising but, many of these tools are very similar and are limited to implementing simple content driven mobile applications based on a small set of customizable pre-defined templates.

Content driven applications primarily help users find, view and interact with content like a recipe, quiz, picture gallery or news application. Technical journalist Sarah Perez used crowd sourcing to collect a list of over 30 tools in this category after her readers requested options for creating their own mobile apps without programming.

There are also visual tools for building more complex mobile apps, like Cabana. Cabana allows users to build web-based and native mobile applications for iPhone and Android. Cabana is in beta, but you can request an invitation to preview the tool. It may take several weeks to get approval to access the beta version of Cabana, or for US $25.00, you can access the beta immediately.

Cabana allows you to design a user interface (UI) using drag-and-drop components. You can then integrate external services like Instagram or simple functions like a refresh button. Cabana also allows you to connect your application to any third party web service (e.g. an online services that provides weather) using the same visual drag-and-drop approach. Cabana’s ability to connect to third party services provides tremendous flexibility; it makes it possible to incorporate almost any information you desire into your application.

If want to create a mobile game, it is also possible without programming knowledge. GameSalad allows you to create mobile games for iPhone, Android or a mobile browser using its visual tool, Creator. GameSalad offers a free and pro version of its platform. The pro version, which costs $499.00 per year, adds the ability to publish to multiple Android marketplaces, include hosted leadboards and incorporate monetization features into your game.

Hiring a Development Team

If you prefer to take a more hands-off approach to implementation or you’ve determined that visual application builders don’t to meet your needs, consider hiring a development team to create your application. Hiring a team requires the detailed plans discussed earlier.

Clearly communicating your concept, requirements and desired delivery schedule, make it possible to get a more accurate estimate.

You may be wondering, “Why hire a team instead of a single developer?” Successful applications are usually composed of several parts, and each part requires unique set of skills. At a minimum, you will likely need a programmer to develop the application logic and a designer to create the look, feel and flow.

If you don’t have time to dedicate to testing, you will need to hire a tester or locate willing beta testers. In some cases, one resource can fulfil multiple roles. However, keep in mind that it’s rare for a jack-of-all-trades to be an expert in every area.

You don’t have to be a large company to hire a skilled and reliable mobile development team. Online freelancing services like Elance, oDesk, vWorker and Guru provide structured systems that make it possible for anyone to post a project and receive bids from potential resources. These sites allow you to:

  • Capture project details
  • Review quotes, qualifications and work history (on the site)
  • Agree to terms (payments and schedule)
  • Collaborate and share files
  • Pay resources

In addition to the tools provided by your selected freelancing site, you should strongly consider:

  • Carefully reviewing contractors’ portfolio of work. Ideally, contractors should have more than one mobile application being used and reviewed by the public.
  • Reviewing contractors’ reputation and references on LinkedIn and similar sites in addition to the rankings on the freelance site.
  • Requiring contractors to sign a non-disclosure agreement to protect your idea before sharing too many details.
  • Paying in installments based on successful completion of the milestones. This approach will help ensure the project is progressing and motivate contractors to remain focused. Development projects are more likely to be successful when both you and your team agree to clear time, budget and goals up front and have frequent touch points about the progress and goals. Many of the above sites support managing using this approach.
  • Learning at a least a few details about what you are hiring a contractor to do. If you have no knowledge about the details of what’s being delivered, you will be at the mercy of your team. You will have no way to judge if resources are just “talking a good game” or intentionally misleading you. It will also help you make more reasonable decisions and avoid antagonizing your team.

Being a good client is just as important as having a team skilled at delivering mobile applications. If you have a great idea, but expect fast, dirt cheap development you are unlikely to be successful. If you inconsistently respond to inquiries and are constantly making “small changes,” with no expectation of cost increases – you are a bad client and your application will reflect it. Business Insider also provides an excellent set of tips for hiring a great iPhone developer.

Become Technical

There is one additional option for creating your mobile application – learn to program. This may sound overwhelming, but learning to program is not as daunting as it seems. There is nothing quite like the sense of accomplishment you will feel after completing your application with your own hands. Apple provides details about its iOS developer program on its site, but it is not designed to teach you to develop.

Luckily, there are many online tutorials, books and classes specifically designed to teach non-technical people to program. Most training will begin by teaching you the tools you need then guide you through creating a simple application.

Here are a few tutorials designed to get you coding:

Keep in mind that learning to program is not a “quick fix” solution. You will have to dedicate yourself to the process to be successful.

A Few More Tips

Here are a few additional resources to help you get started building your mobile application:

Beginner:
Create iPhone Apps That Rock
What is the best route to building an app for a non-technical person?
Mobile Web Apps for Cross Platform using HTML

Intermediate:
Learn to Develop an iPhone App in 4 Weeks

Tips for Hiring a Designer or Developer:
How to Hire a Designer or Developer

A lack of programming knowledge can make creating mobile applications seem complex and even a bit overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.
Have you used any of the tools we discussed or found another tool that helps make mobile application dreams become a reality? We would love to hear your thoughts.

About the Author
Josette Rigsby is a senior-level technology leader with over 15 years of experience leading teams and delivering solutions. She has a special interest in enterprise architecture and emerging technology and frequently contributes her thoughts on the topics.

Could Apple remove the silent switch in the iPhone 5?

 

Chances are, if you’re reading this post-like me; you’re excited about the upcoming release of iOS 6, which is due sometime in fall.

At Apple’s WWDC 2012, we saw an extensive list of amazing-looking additions and features to iOS 6. The most notable of which are additions such as: Full Facebook integration, Offline Reading List, Cellular FaceTime, and Do Not Disturb.

This post is concentrating on the “Do Not Disturb” (DND) function. DND is just the silent switch with more functionality; allowing you to set specific times for when it can and can’t silence alerts and notifications, for times like during work or when you’re sleeping. You can even set it to only silence certain calls and alerts.

It’s no secret that Apple aren’t a fan of physical buttons and switches, there are only four sets on the phone and these are only there as it would be unpractical to trade them for touch buttons.

There are a gut-full of rumours floating around the net based on the upcoming iPhone 5, and I’m about to add to the list. This is all based on speculation with no physical evidence pointing towards the possibility.

Could it be that Apple is planning on removing the silent switch on the side of the iPhone? From a software point of view, there’s no longer a need for this switch, it’s built straight into the OS and does more than the old and out-dated switch can do. This switch is just taking up room that they could use for much more useful features. Bigger screen, improved antenna? I for one want to keep the silent switch, it’s simple and makes it easier to simply flick your iPhone to silent in your pocket instead of going through the unlocking the phone, opening the settings app, and then turning it to silent. Or could it simply be that Apple just wants to add to the silent functionality by giving us more power over what exactly you can do.

What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments. I’d really like to hear your views on this.

Bargain Deals – Mac SuperBundle featuring Roxio Toast

Ok, so I’ve decided to start doing some deals, twice a week on a Monday and Friday. These deals wil be Mac-only software and for a limited time only so act fast to get your bargain.

Nine Top-notch Mac apps for only $49!

Here’s what you get n today’s bundle:

  • Roxio Toast 11 Titanium – $100
  • RapidWeaver 5 – $80
  • Panorama Maker 5 Pro – $80
  • Disk Drill Pro – $89
  • Hallmark Card Studio – $40
  • Houdah Tembo – $15
  • Musicbox – $15
  • Font Explosion 500 Vol 1 – $20
  • Compartments – $15

Total value: $453

But hurry! This deal will end in 10 days and 8 hours (At time of writing this)

Whether you want to burn a DVD, create a website, or play around with your photo’s, this bundle has everything you could possible want on your Mac. At a massive saving like 89%, you really can’t pass something like this up

Click here to bag yourself this amazing deal

The Razer Lycosa – The one I hate.

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I’ve always liked the Razer product line, I discovered the company about 5-6 years ago and haven’t had anything else attached to my PC ever since. Despite their relatively short life-span; they’ve been my number one choice. I’ve had the Tarantula keyboard, Imperator mouse and many others. When my Tarantula gave out (due to my clumsiness mixed with soft drinks), I went out and bought me the Razer Lycosa. Boasting a lovely 1000Hz Ultra-polling / 1ms response time and Hyper Response keys.

I got home and the first thing I did was open up the packaging to look/admire the newly acquired keyboard. My initial thoughts were along the lines of “Wow, isn’t that just a thing of pure beauty.”. My thoughts however, rapidly changed as I started using it.

I tend to type a little to the side (Weird, I know) and the slim keycap’s are horrible, they constantly jam so I miss out letters. They’re like laptop keys, but utter crap. The media keys, yeah, the touchscreen media keys, are unresponsive, sometimes not even working at all. I’m currently typing this article on my laptop because anything more than a short paragraph, this keyboard just doesn’t cut it.

Also, although this is likely a fault with the keyboard, every now-and-then, it acts as if one of the keys are jammed down, without a moment’s notice, I’ll look at my screen and there is a page full of a single letter, or if I’m not so lucky, the Backspace key has jammed and deleted everything I’ve typed already.

One last thing to whine about, and this problem also existed with the Tarantula, the USB port on the back does next-to-nothing, despite both the keyboards USB’s being plugged into my PC, one extra for more power. I plug a USB pen drive in and rarely does it have enough power for the drive, I plug my iPhone in and same thing, despite the iPhone providing it’s own power.

This is the only Razer product that I’ve been displeased with so I’m not going to throw a tantrum and tell Razer to keep their service. I’ll just eagerly anticipate the break-down of this keyboard so I have an excuse to replace it.

Agree or disagree with my thoughts on the Lycosa? Let me know in the comment section and remember to subscribe and rate.

How to spot the clues of a fake email from your bank.

We’ve all had various emails from many different banks, all claiming that there has been an error with your bank account and that you need to click the embedded link to fix the issue. While a lot of people already know how to spot these dangerous emails, there are some that don’t have a clue about them and the damage they could cause. This is just a small blog post where I’ll try to help people understand how to spot the clues that are found on the emails and web links.

Ok, this part is showing the clues within the email itself:

  1. The addressee: In a genuine email from your bank; they will always address you by your name, not your email address or as “Dear user/customer”.
  2. The sent email address: This can be a bit of a tricky one to recognise. A lot of fake emails will have an email address that is close to the real address, sometimes it can even be just a difference in the .com/.co.uk domain part, because of this don’t follow this rule as absolute, this is just a little clue.
  3. Spelling errors: You won’t find this too often but sometimes, you will notice that there are a few spelling errors in the email, this would very rarely-if at all-happen in genuine emails.

Note: This is another clue but not as solid as the others. Notice how in the email, they tell you to click the link below to access the web page, well in genuine emails; they’ll rarely put any link in the email and just simply ask you to “Log in to the bank through your browser”

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Now that we’ve covered the email part of the scam, let’s click the embedded link and take a look at the web page.

The first thing you’ll notice upon loading the website is that they almost always look identical to the genuine website – aesthetically that is.

  1. The login boxes: These are usually the only part of the web page that will actually do anything.
  2. The URL: More times than not, the URL for the web page will be pretty indistinguishable, they usually have a completely different URL the what the web page should be.
  3. Page elements: This is just an extension to point number one. Try as you might, nothing on the web page does anything, almost always, they’re just images captured from the genuine page. Even the “Remember me” check box doesn’t do anything.

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For this part, I’ve entered in some fake details into the login boxes so I can show you the next part of the scam page.

  1. The URL: Notice how the URL for the page has changed, this is again one of the biggest giveaway’s to the phony web page.
  2. Personal information: Here, it’s asking for personal information like the “Memorable word” and “Mother’s maiden name”. With the info that would be provided in these boxes, the scammers could call up your bank and almost certainly gain full access to account details and transaction utilities. They ask for the memorable word and your mother’s maiden name because these are the most common options that you would likely use, like using the same password for every website that you have an account with.
  3. Bank details: This is where the scam gets dangerous. Any information you place in these boxes is sent directly to the scammers. Remember: No bank will ever request this information from you, perhaps with the exception of your account number. The details entered in these boxes could completely open your bank account to these scammers. They could completely empty your bank and lock you out at the same time, and once that information has been sent, there’s very little you can do to rectify it.

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Again, I’ve entered in phony details so I can show this final part. No matter what you do, this will typically be the next screen you see. Every detail could be perfectly correct and yet the dialogue saying “Memorable information is not correct” will show up. This is just to make the web page look that little bit more genuine, if they were to put a splash page up saying “Well done, we’ve just gained complete access to your bank and we’re now emptying it”; then you could still have enough time to call the bank and lock your account. With this splash, it deceives the user into thinking they’ve made a mistake and could sit there for half an hour double checking and triple checking that their info is correct before calling the bank to seek help only to find out that the account has been emptied of life-long savings and your child’s college fund.

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Well, I think that’s just about everything I have to show you about the giveaway clues to a phony bank web page. Most of this article will also apply to other financial websites like: PayPal, Payoneer, eBay etc. I really hope you find this article helpful. There are so many people out there that are completely oblivious to this kind of cyber attack. If you find this article helpful in any way, please share the link and spread the word so people don’t fall for this crime.

Also, if you have any other tips on how to spot a phony email, please share with us in the comments below, tell us your tips and experiences if you’ve fallen victim to these dangerous crimes.

Xbox FIFA 12 League Season

Sweetpatch.tv FIFA 12 League will be starting up again and we plan to kick off from on the 6th Feb. So if you are interested and will be fully committed to the full season please RSVP and register on the page below. Further details of the teams you will use will be confirmed on a later date as for now we are just looking for the numbers to play.
The format is as follows –

League Season – over 8-10 weeks
Full fixture list
2 games per week (1 week deadline to play them)
FA Cup style & League Cup

Promotion/Relegation depending on how many divisions.

FIFA Teams – TBC
All comunication done on this site, via the profiles & league group or event.
All players must be relaible & active on a daily basis for communication
Chat room available.

PC FIFA 12 League Season

Sweetpatch.tv FIFA 12 League will be starting up again and we plan to kick off from on the 6th Feb. So if you are interested and will be fully committed to the full season please RSVP and comment on the link below. Further details of the teams you will use will be confirmed on a later date as for now we are just looking for the numbers to play.

The format is as follows –

League Season – over 8-10 weeks
Full fixture list
2 games per week (1 week deadline to play them)
FA Cup style & League Cup
Promotion/Relegation depending on how many divisions.
FIFA Teams – TBC
All comunication done on this site, via the profiles & league group or event.
All players must be relaible & active on a daily basis for communication
Chat room available.

PC FIFA 12 – 1v1 League Season
If you don’t have the game or a sufficient platform to play on, you can go over here and bag yourself one for free.