26th March 2017
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Notificare @ crossing border festival, in the hague

It’s been a busy month but we’re not done yet. Me and Joris Verbogt will be speaking at the Crossing Border Festival.  The Border Sessions is a beta edition aiming to inspire people about the impact of technology on society.

Our talk will focus in the systems of the future and the evolution of the web. We call it “The age of the Web Machine”. If you are a professional from the business industry, government, non-govermnental or creative industries then this is for you. Just come and meet us on November 16th in The Hague.

For more information please go to the Border Sessions website at:

http://bordersessions.org

See you there!

SXSW so far …

After a lonnnnng flight of 11 hours, we finally got to Houston. The Customs officer was surprisingly fast, so rapidly we start driving a big American SUV to Austin which took us at least 3 hours under a huge showers (almost felt like Holland). Austin is definitely a different city where people are extremely friendly and laid-back. After a couple of drinks we finally felt asleep after a 32 hour day!

Day one started early we needed to grab our badges in order to start our journey of panels.

Brand as Patterns was my first panel, it was quite interesting the participants transmitted the idea that brands should be designed based on patterns.

Marc Shillum from Method, Inc defined that brands are about paradoxes, consistency and uniqueness. How do you achieve this? With patterns.

Basically he demonstrated that brands should have their themes and variations based in patterns only that way you can achieve uniqueness and consistency.

Greg Johnson is the Global Creative Director at HP, he also reinforced the idea that brands should follow a pattern. Experiences are liquid and brands must follow and you can’t just talk your way, you actually have to prove it. In this digital age brands must create a in temporal feeling rather than just a short big bang.

Another interesting suggestion dropped by Robin Lanahan, Design & Brand Strategist at Microsoft, about story telling was the fact that usually brands focus in explaining how and what but often forget the why.
She suggested that story telling should be dynamic in spite the story framework should remain static in order to achieve a successful brand.

Probably the most interesting point in this panel was done by Walter Werzowa, a musical composer that demonstrated the patterns our brain understands in both musical or brand design.
In order to create a successful brand, like music, one can’t be too repetitive but at the same time can not also shift too must. If you find this balance you create a rewarding experience.

This was a nice start and after running around in the Autin Convention Center, between visiting Windows Phone and Samsung stand we finally found our place to sit in our next panel… The lean start up, Eric Ries the writer of the book with the same name and the founder of a couple of successful start ups gave an inspirational talk about how to setup your product when money is a limitation.

Quickly setting up a product is the key, you can’t introduce an infinite number of functionality before you actually release your product. You must iterate and measure your clients every time you introduce major new features and be honest about it when the numbers are not as good as expected.

Pivot! This the new term if it doesn’t work you must pivot! Better close down a project that doesn’t show good results than keep on investing in a failing product. Usually new entrepreneurs are so absorbed by their ideas that don’t want to believe that the product doesn’t work until they actually run out of money.

The big message was probably that you must act fast and minimize your work in order to make your product available right away. Invite your clients for trial as soon as possible don’t wait until you created the perfect project to start measuring if it actually works.

SXSW is definitely very inspiring, the place where you can see loads of new coming projects being sold in the streets by just stick posters in outdoor billboards or by delivering leaflets in the street corners.

In the second day we explored some more streets of Austin, our colleague and Chief Developer Joris Verbogt was gonna make his #roadtrip talk but I actually couldn’t make it in time because of my first panel of the day. Distances in Austin are huge and you don’t realize until you start walking :(.

But what kept me from going was actually very exciting and interesting too. Becky Wang is an expert in data analysis presented an interesting idea: How your data can predict the future.

She started to emphasize that in a world of big data, and we have loads of it, we can actually use that data to predict our desires and future, quantify movements, behaviours and moods. If your have the right model and a bit of creativity this can be achieve through data. Data comes in many forms be it your social networks of your Nike+ device you can gather data and apply formulas to get predictions that can work in your benefit.

Was a very interesting panel and has definitely piratical implementations in almost every business.

The Google Village opened up that afternoon and we went to take a look under extremely bad weather we ended up in this old Victorian style houses totally themed as Google products.

The Android house, the Google Maps house and the Discovery house. Google announced their new product the Google Offers. Basically kinda of a Groupon look alike based in your location it presents you offers.

Also interesting was to see this new website called Schemer

where you can integrate your list of interests into your Google+ account. Basically you can create a list of to-dos and interact with your circles in order to do those stuff. We had a demo with one of the guys that developed it and even subscribed ourselves by providing our Google+ accounts.

Another new product that Google will integrate in Google Maps will be the Mapmaker, basically we will be able to make corrections or add new roads to maps.

Google was giving out drinks for free so was nice to see they actually giving something back after all our contributions to their products :).

The 3rd day was the most brilliant so far. Our first panel was with Seth Macfarlane, the creator of Family Guy, American Dad and Cleaveland Show and a very funny guy, he explained how he got to the idea behind Family Guy and how the cancellation was actually a good thing because it boosted the sales of DVDs and consequently the come back of the show.

But the cool thing about this panel was the fact that he has shown also his musical project where he sings all the classics of Frank Sinatra in a brilliant way and his newest project in the making, the motion picture that will probably go out this year, Ted.

We actually had the privilege to be the first people to actually see some short (8 minutes) pieces of the movie, and I can say it’s gonna be awesome!

After that hilarious talk that also counted with Marc Wahlberg, he is the main character in this movie, we rush to catch the Wolfram Alpha panel present by Stephen Wolfram himself. And what a panel that was!

Brilliantly, Stephen gave a demo of the new Wolfram Alpha Pro features and in one word I can only say… WOW!

Wolfram Alpha is a website that you interact by providing a question like you would ask to a person and retrieve the most comprehensive report back, in almost every thing you can imagine. Give it a try wolframalpha.com this is definitely gonna change the way we use Internet as a research tool.

I actually finished my day in a group discussion that Urbanairship promoted and I was invited to participate, actually wasn’t counting that it was gonna be recorded so soon they gonna release it on their website.

SXSW is with no doubt the best place to be when your business is related to technology, web and software, this year the interactive part of the festival actually doubled the registrants number compared to the music festival which is originally the face of SXSW.

Well guys this is actually all for now as I speed up to catch the talk of Tim O’Reilly about creating more value than you capture.

Rotje: the technology and the numbers

For the 3rd year in a row we did an update to our Rotje app and this time we definitely out did ourselves. Forget about the most used technologies, the conventional way of writing APIs or long development periods.

In Rotje 3.0 we didn’t just update the existing iOS app, we also created an Android version, a Facebook app and a web application.

The technology

We started by creating an HTTP Rest API using technologies like node.js and mongoDB. The API handles the registering of users (collecting their facebook ids and device tokens) and records where and when they were launching their fireworks. This allowed us to gather the list of friends of each user and to know which ones already had the app. We used this information to invite users to install the app through an app request in Facebook or send a push notification to their mobiles with an animated rotje, matje or nitraatbom.

For the apps, we introduced a new look and functionality. We use push notifications services ofUrban Airship that allowed us to send notifications to both Android and iOS platforms. Facebook Graph API played an important role in our apps. We were able to publish in user’s walls, send app requests and get their friends list.

These native apps were completed by a website rotjeapp.com, in which we use Coffee script andBatman.js together with Google maps and websockets to display a map and show where the fireworks were being launched in real-time. This was very useful to come up with a proof of concept for an alternative platform to the traditional LAMP servers.

All this was developed in a short span of time by a very small team (most of them working in their spare time) keeping in mind that iTunes Connect was closed from 22nd to 29th December.

The numbers

We’re actually very happy with the results! More than 160k app downloads (Rotje was in the Top 25 free apps in both platforms for over 2 weeks), in which 18k registered with Facebook. In total, we accounted (we didn’t track fireworks without location) 150k fireworks, where the chinese firecracker (matje) was the most popular. Rotje 3.0 was downloaded in every continent, most of the downloads were made in Europe but places like Botswana, Kyrgyzstan, French Polynesia and Mongolia were in our list. Thanks to Flurry we have a great insight about our app users.

We wish to thank everyone that downloaded the app and contributed to this enormous success!

Blueprint – A prototyping tool for iOS Development

In spite Blueprint mimics Apple’s iWork, I think it’s still a great idea to copy the work style, now that I own an iPad this app really comes in handy. The application presents you with a model project to start from or you can just create a new one.

 The next step is to select the target device for your prototype. All the iOS devices are supported in both portrait or landscape orientation and any iOS developer will find many similarities with the XCode’s Interface Builder.

This app’s interface will show you all the tools available in the right side and you will notice that all the bars, controllers, tables etc… are available and it also supports 3 types of actions, actually that’s how you link views to each other. So from the main palette you can toggle between properties and actions mode. This is very cool, with this tool you can actually create very complex prototypes without having to write a line of code.

Blueprint is worth $14.99 in the App Store and is only available for the iPad. It is definitely a tool that will make your clients enthusiastic about their projects.

For those out there using iPad just take a look (you can even download a light version for free) at this gorgeous application.

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