Welcome to our musical interlude – Cantat.io
Although my musical genius is a well kept secret, it’s not a secret that I’ve been hankering for some software to help organise my practice sessions (on guitar).
There we’re two main things I wanted to solve;
1) A central place to keep all my practice exercises, songs, links to songs and associated progress. Up until now, this has been mostly in a big 3 ring binder. Not very tech, or portable.
2) A place to generate practice plans, and a facility to let you follow the plan as specified (e.g 10 mins warm up, now 20 mins scales). Yes, I know I’m not very interesting…
Anyway, I couldn’t find any web apps that did just what I needed, so in the end I wrote my own! It’s still fairly basic as far as features goes, but I’m already using it to organise my practices, which is great.
It’s at Cantat.io, so go have a look if you’re musically inclined. No doubt I’ll do an iOS client sometime soon…
We’re a product company. We develop products, and then we like to develop them some more. But quite often we’ll have to take time out to try and keep our customers informed about what’s happening. You know the thing;
Perhaps we’re releasing a new version of a product, so we might;
- Announce the new product version on Twitter
- Write a new note on the company facebook page about what the new product does
- Send a newsletter out to customers who’ve signed up for our email list
- Write some html release notes and put them on a server somewhere for auto updating apps
- etc etc etc for as many channels as you can think of.
This is all fairly routine stuff, and none of it’s particulary onerous. It’s not however, automagical. And it should be, because everything that is automagical pleases me immensly.
- Write some description text, with a subject line.
- Have this transformed as needed, and then sent out to whichever channels I specify.
And so we wrote a tool to do that for us.
Callout works with templates. In a template you define what outputs you want (e.g Twitter, Facebook) and how you want you message transformed before being sent out.
Example – Product Release
Here is my original subject and text:
Subject : 0.4.5 of fantastic product ABC is released.
Text: 0.4.5 is available. It solves these awful bugs
1) Awful bug 1
2) Awful Bug 2
3) Awful Bug 3
Which might get transformed to
Twitter -> 0.4.5 of fantastic product ABC is released. Download it here (link to binary) and get the release notes here (link to html release notes)
Facebook -> 0.4.5 of fantastic product ABC is released. It solves these awful bugs
1) Awful bug 1
2) Awful Bug 2
3) Awful Bug 3
Download it here (link to binary) and get the release notes here (link to html release notes)
Support / help is available here (help site).
And that’s it!
This is all done via predefined templates which allow you to use tags to insert / choose blocks of text. It’s pretty simple at the moment, but will evolve as we go along.
Callout lives here. Give it a try if you want some automagical goodness in your development cycle. And did I mention it has a command line api?
Mark Webster of the Herald’s Mac Planet gave us a nice write up here. Always nice to get good press, thanks Mark!
Just put a new video tutorial up, showing how to make an app from a pdf file using yLIP.
Here’s how the process works in detail.
- When you import a pdf into yLIP, it gets split up into separate pages. A new scene is created for each page, and the content is added as a new image layer.
- Standard swipe left / right navigations actions are then added to each scene.
- Each imported scene is made zoomable
- A pop up scene is created, with a scene browser on it.
- A double touch action is added to each imported image layer, to show the pop up scene.
- Any links in the pdf are turned into yLIP link actions.
There’s nothing to stop you from importing pdfs into apps with other scenes (although you’d need to sort out the navigation a bit), or adding other things to the imported scenes. It’s a really useful and flexible tool for anyone wanting to make an app.
I should also note for anyone thinking of making a book like this that the Apple app review process can be picky about this, and they prefer straightforward books to be submitted to ibooks. Although that doesn’t seem to be the case for magazines etc.
Create your app here.
yLIP 0.7.5 is released. Including;
- various bug fixes for Lion (10.7) related issues
- New toolbar for scene manipulation, and adding new layers
- fix for bug where the app would always open a new project screen, even if you clicked on a ylip file to start the app
Visit www.ylipapp.com for more details.
Well, it’s finally time to come out from under the covers and tell one and all what I’ve been up to for a good few many months now.
yLIP is a drag and drop mobile app builder. It’s simple and quick to use, but powerful enough to create some quite sophisticated apps.
It’s intended to be easy for non technical people to create apps with. Why should content creators should not have the tools needed to create amazing looking apps easily, without having to employ programmers?
Mac Desktop Application
yLip is a Mac desktop application, which gives you an editor to compose your app with and a simulator to see what it looks like and how it runs.
This is a screen shot of Magnetic Letters in the making, and you can see the basics of the desktop editor at work here.
You can add different screens (scenes) and add different layers to each scene – images, text, video, sounds, hotspots, even animated image sequences. Layers can interact with each other ( you can hide, expand, move layers) and can be dragged around the screen if wished, as in Magnetic Letters.
You can import a pdf document into the editor, and it will create an app from it with a different scene for each page in the pdf, and add zooming, swiping, a pop up scene browser and even allow links in the pdf to open up mobile safari.
There’s lots more to yLIP, so please go and have a look if you’re interested.
Finally, I’d just like to say how stoked everybody here at Rosebrae Technology is that we’re now in open beta. It’s been a long, hard road to get there, but I think it’s been worth it.
iPhone Apps Finder have a nice review of clocks up here.
“A great way to turn your iPhone into an international alarm clock on the road.”
Responding to requests from pilots and military personnel, we’ve included military time zones in the latest release of Clocks. Also included are named US time zones (Central, Eastern, etc), standard time zone abbreviations (e.g GMT, EST) and also support for UTC (or Zulu).
A new local time zone is also included which will keep track of the local time no matter what time zone your device is set to.
The full press release is here.
Since I’ve been working in a home office (actually a cottage in the garden) I’ve become much more aware of my time management habits, both good and bad. I’ve had to become far more disciplined with my work habits.
Working in a typical corporate office (as a coder, anyway) much of your schedule is imposed on you from external sources. You have to turn up by a particular time, you need to be at your desk (or a meeting) throughout the day, you can’t leave until a certain time at the earliest etc etc. Working from a home office is a different proposition altogether, and you have to try and impose your desired work habits upon yourself.
Towards this end I’ve been looking at certain ways to improve my productivity, and lately I’ve been playing with something called the Pomodoro Technique.
Pomodoro is the name of a productivity improvement technique developed by an Italian chap called Francesco Cirilllo, originally using a tomato shaped kitchen timer (hence the name, Pomodoro is Italian for Tomato. I think.) It’s a pretty simple idea – break your work periods into 25 minute sessions with 5 minute breaks, with a longer 15 minute break after 4 periods, and you’ll get more done.
Back when I used to work in London, I actually used a variation of this whenever I had some tedious job that I really didn’t want to code. You know the sort of thing, you’ve effectively figured it all out in your head, and the rest of the work is just a simple matter of programming. By starting a timer and committing to coding without any distractions for the next 40 minutes or whatever, I was able to plough through the tedious stuff in no time and get it out of the way.
Anyway, so how did I find the Pomodoro technique?
Well, really effective for certain tasks and a bit of a hindrance for others. It was great for jobs that weren’t really that interesting, or when I was struggling to get started on something. As part of my implementation I turned off lots of distractions (mail client, web browser, twitter client), and the mere act of working solidly for 25 minutes improved my concentration and helped me get through the to do list. 25 minutes was ideal for this because mentally it’s extremely easy to commit to concentrate on one thing only for that period, especially with a small break at the end. And for programmers the 5 minutes break is about right, because I found I didn’t lose my frame of reference much during that time.
For some coding though, especially when I was in the zone and hacking away, I found it a hindrance. 25 minutes really isn’t long enough in this case, and often I found myself ignoring the timer and not stopping when I should. Would I have improved my productivity more If I’d have been stricter with myself in these periods? Possibly, but coding has it’s own natural breaks and I’ve found it’s best to recognise and use these when you’re working well.
The verdict? Definitely a useful time management tool, especially as a way of dealing with procrastination. I’m certainly going to use Pomodoro with tasks I don’t enjoy as much, but perhaps customise it for longer periods when I’m coding. And I think you really need to manage your level of external interruption, otherwise it’s not going to help at all. Francesco has a whole website dedicated to the technique and the pragmatic programmers have a book out about it as well.