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Hey LinkedIn – Nobody Wants This!

Take a lesson from my carelessness and avoid emailing 400 friends, family, and business acquaintances something they don’t want.
As a product guy and developer I have to say that I would never handle some aspects of recruiting the way LinkedIn did it which, quite honestly, is a bit sleazy. Let’s get them to fix this…

Head First Into Full Stack Javascript

Two-way data binding, dependency injection, inversion of control, authentication strategies, ultra scalable, massive open source community, and much more.  It never would have occurred to me that Javascript had all of those in a form that I would want to use.  In fact, If you had mentioned that I would be doing this 10 years ago I would have assumed it had been at gunpoint.

I, like many developers that have been building things on the web since the mid 90s, developed a hatred for Javascript very early on but I have been warming up to it recently. Over the past year I have been working more and more with JS on the server, due to a couple apps I wrote utilizing Parse.com’s awesome BAAS solution.  Since getting my beak wet I have been very excited to dive full on into the JS, hipster developer infused, world.

The stack I am using is often referred to as the MEAN (Mongo, Express, Angular, and Node) stack.  Below is the part played by each:

MongoDB – NoSQL document storage database.  Basically stores JSON files and indexes them.

MongooseJS – Object Modeling for Node and Mongo.  Essentially the equivalent of an ORM for SQL DBs.

NodeJS – Insanely fast and lean network application platform.  Focused on an event-driven, non-blocking IO model.  By itself its a glorified netcat.
ExpressJS – Web application framework that sits on top of NodeJS and turns it into a cutting edge web application server.
AngularJS –  MVC in the browser with 2 way databinding.  In my case I’m using it to create a single-page web application, meaning that all page changes and routing is essentially done by JS.

I had some experience with MongoDB heading into this but it was very elementary so […]

I have an Idea for an App! What next?

I get this question often.  Actually, it normally starts with “How much to build me an app that does XYZ?”.    The answer is that its more complicated than you might think.  Before getting to how much your app will cost, we need to figure out what your app needs to be!
First, Let’s Research the Idea
Before going into any project you need to do some research first and find competitors and understand the market as it currently stands.  This step is non-negotiable unless you are building an app for an established business with an existing user base and have a very good understanding of your customers’ needs.

When you start doing this research remember that competition is a good thing so don’t let it get you down.  Competition means someone else thought it a good enough idea to execute on.  Knowing your competition before you start can tell you what is working (and is not) in the market right now.   If there is a lot of competition then you have that much more information.  After all, being the first to the idea is often times not the best position to be in.  That means you need to educate the users on what your new product category is and why they need it!

When doing your research, think about these things and make notes:

How successful is each competing product?  Who are most successful?
How long have they been at it and what sort of resources do they have (small team, indie group, well funded, etc)?
How are they making money?
How does your take on the problem improve on what they’ve done?
If there is not a lot of successful competition, will people understand your product?
What is everyone competing against (the […]

“Is that cute enough?” – Me

I’ve been developing Apps, Sites, and more for a while but that is a whole new question to be asking myself at 3:30am on a weekday.  As it turns out, its a question that I think I might find myself asking on any type of project in the future.

It was about 3 months ago that I was talking with my  friend Oscar Hernandez about children’s books on the iPad and iPhone.   I offered to look into the options that exist out there and to make a long story short, I decided to build a new app to feature his books (as well as others eventually).

Children’s books are probably not what most could have predicted as my next move.  I sure didn’t see it coming.  That said, the more I thought about the opportunity the more it started to make sense for me.  Ever since the birth of my little buddy Tyler I have wanted to incorporate him into what I do.  On top of that, I have always thought about how growing up, nearly everyone in my family has worked in education.  My mom and dad, most of my uncles and aunts, and now my sister and even sister-in-law.  I have always enjoyed teaching and mentoring people in my professional career so this seemed an opportunity to do it on a larger scale… with decidedly “cuter” subjects.

From the outside looking in, this project seemed like it would simpler than my most recent project, SocialPar.  It turned out that simple, not surprisingly,  was the wrong word.  The project was however a breath of fresh air from a creative perspective.  Something for kids needs to be fun and entertaining, much more so than a social network for golf […]

New Baby and SocialPar Launch

Nothing good in life comes easy… and what a week to prove it.

Last Wednesday I was up working late as I normally do and decided to hang in the towel around 5:30am.  What can I say, I’m a creature of the night.  I grabbed a snack and headed to bed where my wife Kim, 38+ weeks pregnant, was rounding the corner of her full night’s sleep.  I turned on the TV and within 15 minutes she awoke in a panic – her water broke.

Making things sound much simpler than they unfolded, 15 hours of labor and Tyler Justin made his grand entrance at 9:39pm.  Holy shit.  Kim was awesome, I was a mess, and we both were obviously over the moon.

The day before Tyler showed up I submitted my second major app, and first big swing, to the App Store: SocialPar.   Submitting apps to the App Store, for those unaware, can be a bit of a process.  You send them the app and they check to make sure you aren’t doing anything illegal or dishonest and also that the app dosen’t crash.  It generally takes about a week to get through and find out if you are good to go.  I got the go ahead for SocialPar on Sunday which is normally a cause for celebration but overshadowed by the little guy.

Here we are, Ty is 1 week old and it is launch day so please allow me to introduce you to SocialPar.

SocialPar ( http://socialpar.com ) is a mobile application running on iPhone and iPad that helps golfers find other golfers to play with when and where they want to play.  This app is, by far, the simplest to use of its kind.  The signup process takes less than […]

Trying out Windows Azure Cloud Services

Since I started off on my own, I wanted to make it a point to try new technologies in between projects.  This time I decided to make use of the lottery data I have for Lottopuddle.com and create a lottery results site with ads.  My goal is for the site to be very simple (rare in the lottery space) and mobile friendly.  Spoiler alert — the site is up and running in acceptable form with instantly updated lottery results: http://LotteryResultsHub.com .

I have been working with .NET for years and hence have always been in tune with Microsoft technologies as they surface.  The major exception to that rule is my understanding of the Azure (http://www.windowsazure.com) platform so I decided to dive in headfirst by creating a simple site to host from the ground up with Azure in mind.
My Current Hosting Situation
For the past several years I have had a hosted VMWare ESX server, on which I host about 5 VMs running both Windows and Linux.  The price tag is a bit on the hefty side of things at almost $250 a month but it is a significant machine with 12GB of RAM, 8 CPUs, and 200GB storage.  If that machine were at full tilt all day long, there is no question that it would be a much better deal than what I would pay with a cloud provider like Azure.  That said, using something like Azure brings some much needed peace of mind ( e.g. System updates, backups, DB Maintenance, etc)
Getting Started

The first step was the easiest by far.  Microsoft is offering a 90 day free trial of their service which made trying it out a no brainer.  I signed up and was able to create new VMs, Worker […]

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