EEF33646-832E-47C7-9329-A006153AD436 BlackBerry | Baghdad By The Bay

Posts Tagged 'BlackBerry'

HearPlanet: Bring the World to your Ears

Last year I started working for a company here in San Francisco that writes apps for the iPhone and Android. Specifically there’s one app that’s their big seller and I’m going to tell you about HearPlanet today. It’s a cool little app that replaces those guidebooks you would need to use when you travel around and it does a very good job of it.

I should know, I did quite a few of the voiceovers for the app in my home studio. It uses GPS location and pops up the places around you and gives you a little background story on the places. Not only is there custom content that we created, but there’s also works drawn from Wikipedia and CitySearch to add to the list so that no matter where you are there’s something to hear. While there’s a large amount of data on San Francisco because the company started here, there are cities served around the world.

If you download the app for your iPhone or Android phone and you happen to be traveling around San Francisco or New York you might hear my voice pop up. [hint, the links are to samples I’ve done.] There are special featured places and they now have it set up so that you can join their site and upload your own content of places you like around the city, or whatever city you’re in.

The app itself costs $4.99 for iPhone [$2.99 for Android], but there is a free lite version of the app that has the banner ads on the screen. It’s well worth the price. Some of the businesses also offer special deals when you look them up in the app.

HearPlanet taught me a lot of things, like how to virtually run a company. We’d all meet up on Mondays or if we couldn’t we’d join in on a Skype conference call to see what our work was going to be for the week, then some of us at least, would go home and do the work. I learned the joys of using dropbox to transfer files that we were working on and how to work in the cloud. This was new to me and it was a really great innovation for a way to work.

I also learned how to better manage CSS and uploading the content to the backend of the system. It was a very cool process to be involved in and now you can be involved to. Everyone loves to tweet reviews of places, now you can actually write up a review of a place and upload a picture and audio. I think this is going to take off very soon. Check it out.

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Appnation: Boy are my dogs tired.

My legs are sore from standing for a couple days at one of the weirdest conferences I’ve ever worked. Over the past two days I represented the company I work for at Appnation. It was at Moscone Center and was a convention for mobile app developers to learn ways to make money as app developers. They say it’s a mash-up of developers, venture capitalists and people who do stuff that could benefit developers [more on that later].

This was a show that compared to MacWorld was an oversized garage type of event. There were maybe about 100 people hawking their wares and the people that would come by the booth I was working were a mix of end users, VC people, but mostly people who were too cheap to purchase a booth and were coming by to try and sell their product to me to include in my app even if it had nothing to do with or was of no use to my app. In other words, in my opinion the show was a bust for the company I work for.

There was lots of talk about how to get venture capital funding for your app, but in reality most of these hip app writers live out of virtual spaces that don’t have anything a real office has. Imagine working for a company that is based in a eggshell of an industrial workspace. They have no landline phone, no printers, cheap Office Depot tables and chairs, no form of interior design what so ever, mail never gets delivered because, well snail mail is so 10 minutes ago and after all, in a month or two we’ll be moving to an even better eggshell to work out of!

Eggshelled companies are not what a Venture Capital firm has much interest in because once they give you the money they want to be able to keep track of you by something other than email and a cell phone call, neither of which they can find a real person to shake down to get the money back.

I was able to meet some interesting people there though. Steve and Reed from appMobi were right across from me and put on a good show. Steve incidentally speaks 8 languages and was happy to demonstrate that fact even though it had nothing to do with his product. AppMobi is a web-based product that lets you write mobile apps using web design skills not programming languages and then deploy your product not just to one platform, but to several. This sounded pretty cool and they’re demo showed how cool it was. Then there was Chris and Cherie from Technomadia. These were a couple of Burning Man people who actually live out of a trailer and because of that wrote an app called State Lines. This is a fun app for travelers that tells you the speed limits, smoking rules, alcohol laws in every state. Very useful if you’re a frequent traveler and only $2.99. I asked them if the app paid them well and they told me that, “It keeps them in lunch and sometimes dinner.” OK, while I can’t exactly say I’d be able to live off that, at least I know I’d be getting a couple a meals a day from it.

Probably the best thing I learned from the show was that geek girls with iPads can be hot. These girls weren’t icing on the cake like you have at car shows, but they were spouting off about objective-C, equity investors, marketing throughput, etc and their eyes weren’t all glossed over like they were just repeating what they were told to say. I’d also have to say that most of the people there were talking more about the free after parties than the products people were trying to sell, so that should tell you something about the overall effectiveness of the show.

Smartphones for Dummies: San Francisco

There’s something about smartphones that no one wants you to know. Now that I have my brand new iPhone 4 I am an expert and will share with you my font of knowledge.

Well, maybe at least what I’ve learned so far…First off, these are phones that connect to the internet. What they don’t tell you is that they try to access Wi-Fi first, then fall back to 3g, then Edge, then GPRS as the last resort. Everything after Wi-FI is where your monthly data charges come in. Now if you’re like me and the millions of other hipsters who got an iPhone to be cool and only make a few phone calls you can find a way to save yourself the $15-$25/month as soon as that’s not a part of your contract [looking into that tomorrow].

I’ve found there are tons of free Wi-Fi out there and there’s even a free app for the iPhone called of course, Free Wi-Fi Finder. While this works pretty good, I’ve found that if you see the #G or E or ° on your iPhone that you should go into your settings and try and turn on Wi-Fi. Chances are you’ll find an open system. I was wandering around my local Safeway and happened to remember this and turned it on and found that Safeway offers free Wi-Fi. So I connected and now because it’s a smartphone it remembered it and every time I’m in that Safeway it will automatically hook up. This is good because the cell phone reception is nil inside so I can run Skype if I need to make a call and call out over Wi-Fi and be a VoIP geek for a bit.

This secret has kept me from getting a Smartphone even when I could have afforded one because it was the data plan that pushed me back. I already pay less per month for much better Wi-Fi at home, why should I pay more for a slower connection outside the house?

So I think this weekend I’ll go fishing, but I’ll leave the pole at home and go around my neighborhood and as soon as I find I don’t have a Wi-Fi signal I’ll see who’s I can latch onto. I’ll also do that at the pizza place by where I work since I know they offer free Wi-Fi and they have good pizza considering they aren’t in New York.

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