Stinging NettlesPosted June 26, 2007 at 12:08 am by John Casasanta
To say the least, WWDC was a complete blast this year. Not for the conference itself (I actually attended only the keynote and one session this year…I’ll catch up when Apple posts the session vids in the iTMS), but for everything else going on before, during, and after.
Austin and I got in kind of early this year, arriving the Thursday before the conference. It’s been a busy year and we figured that a bit of R&R was long overdue. Unfortunately, any sort of mini-vacation wasn’t in the cards for the start of the trip. When we arrived in San Francisco we found out that there were a ton of loose ends that needed tying-up for the Delicious Generation party we were throwing. Thankfully, it all came together in the end and we pulled it off, although it was one of the most stressful things I’ve experienced. But I won’t bore you with those whiny details.
We finally got to meet teammate Sophia Teutschler in-person for the first time while out there. It’s always interesting to meet someone who you just know in the “virtual” sense and it was great hanging out with her for the week.
Kevin Rose Dinner
Probably the biggest highlight of the week for us was having dinner with Kevin Rose. He suggested sushi at Blowfish which was one of the best places I’ve had sushi at. He’s every bit as cool in-person as he is on Diggnation. Basically just a regular guy with absolutely no ego. We all just spent time talking about Mac software, TV shows, video games, early personal computers, and social engineering. And we actually tried the Fugu (blowfish) and no one died. Sweet!
To unwind a bit each night, we had gatherings on the terrace of our hotel. Most indie mac devs work in a vacuum most of the time so it’s fantastic to be able to get together and hang out a couple of times per year for the Macworld Expo and WWDC.
Monday, of course, was Steve Jobs’ keynote. I have to say that it was fairly underwhelming for me, unfortunately. It was pretty much a rehash of last year’s keynote with a couple of new features added to Leopard. But I guess that’s a good thing because it means that Leopard’s definitely stabilizing now.
One thing I take a lot of pride in is snickering, “I told you so” to several people (especially Austin) who insisted on getting up at like 5 AM to wait in line for the keynote. I got there at around 9 AM (1 hour before showtime) and not only managed to get into the keynote, but had a seat just about as good as the above mentioned people. The key is that there are plenty of “holes” in the seating so it’s not that hard to get a decent seat so long as you don’t mind sitting without your friends. I’ll play the loner in exchange for four hours of extra sleep any day.
Tuesday night the Apple Design Awards were held. This is basically the Academy Awards for Mac software. I’ve won two times in the past and entered iClip 4 this year in the User Experience category. But honestly, I wasn’t very optimistic this time because there was plenty of amazing competition and a small app with a so-called “nonstandard” UI like iClip is unlikely to win that category IMO.
Even though I came up empty, I was really happy for many of the winners. I completely felt that that everyone’s favorite Mac dev, Panic, was definitely going to grab some award for Coda, but I was expecting it to be in the Developer Tool category. It ended up landing the biggie, which is the User Experience one. And in the Developer Tool category, Jan van Boghut’s excellent CSSEdit took that honor. The one I was happiest for was Zac Cohan and Nik Youdale’s very cool Picturesque in the Student Product category. Zac’s helped me out on a task for MacHeist several times (I’m not giving away what it was as I don’t want to ruin the illusion ) and it was great to see a friend take home one of the magic cubes. So a big congrats to all the winners, especially the three mentioned above.
Wednesday: Delicious Generation Party
Wednesday was the big day for our party. It seemed like the bulk of the trip revolved around getting the party together. In case you haven’t seen it, organizing partner, Phill Ryu, put up a party recap post recently. Phill and I are infamous for not getting along very well and we were yet again at each other’s throats before the party went live but it thankfully worked out well in the end.
The biggest problem with the party was the exact opposite of the party we threw during the Macworld Expo in January. For that one, we had about half the expected attendance. I guess announcing it the day of the party with invitations that had the wrong time and incorrect directions isn’t A Good Thing™. At least lots of people in a San Francisco homeless shelter got to eat pretty well that night. But this time around we had to beat people off with sharp sticks.
The art gallery we held it at was supposed to fit around 150 people so we had around 200 on the guest list with the expectation that many wouldn’t actually show up. Bad idea. In the end around 250 people managed to get in. I know this because I got a call from the bartending caterer the next day mentioning this little factoid. And also mentioning that we were getting billed an extra $1,000 for the excess partygoers.
Even worse was that we had to turn away over 350 more people that signed-up but we simply couldn’t fit. This party will likely be a recurring event for subsequent Macworld Expos and WWDCs but I feel like I just don’t have it in me to co-host a party with 600+ guests. Part of me liked the previous party more because of the looser feel. But there’s no doubt that I had a great time this time around too.
I think my favorite part of the party was seeing the Dutch portion of the madebysofa gang (who I’ve dubbed the Difficult Dutch) not being able to get into the party. We told the guys to be sure to sign up because our gatekeeper wasn’t a Mac person so he had no idea who was who. And of course only one of them signed-up. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them so happy to see me when I noticed them locked out and rescued them. BTW, the DD were featured in a recent article on Apple’s Developer Connection.
MacApper did a quick video interview with Austin and me at the party. The interviewer was all set to just interview Austin but Austin asked him if he wanted me to be in it too. He responded with an awkward, “umm…I only have questions prepared for Austin, but ok”. And that was good enough for a media-whore like me. It might’ve been the alcohol from the party in me but I kinda come off like Captain Lou Albano in this one.
We were plagued by audio problems for the demo portion of the party. This might’ve had something to do with us rolling into Radio Shack an hour before the party to purchase a PA system. The fact that most of us had no experience setting up one didn’t help either. For what it’s worth, we did learn that having the microphone a few feet away from the speaker can cause a bit of feedback. We’ll do better next time…
The most unfortunate part of the party was not being able to show any Leopard-only apps. We had some people at Apple pulling hard for us but it unfortunately wasn’t meant to be as we couldn’t get approval. NDAs suck. Delicious Library 2 was going to be shown, along with Cookbook and Atmosphere from My Dream App, and a brand-new app.
Actually maybe more unfortunate was that the almighty Juan Alvarez, developer of Cha-Ching, didn’t do the potentially show-stealing demo that he was planning to do. What was slated to happen was he was simply gonna show a screenshot of Cha-Ching while he performed a bunch of magic tricks (he’s actually a great magician). I’m not sure exactly what happened, but when it came time for his demo, it ended up being a plain vanilla app demo. He completely made up for it later by performing a “magic-act” on a beer bottle and then later accusing me of cheating at poker, though.
A Shrinking Chasm
The most fortunate part of the party was mending the “form vs. function” divide that had persisted in the community. Plenty has been written about it so there’s no point in rehashing it here, but suffice to say that many of the people who we once considered “haters” showed up to the party. And we shook hands. We had lunches and dinners with them. We had open, civil discussions.
It’d be foolish to think that we’d all be on the same page about every issue. But I think it’s definitely reasonable to think that we can all get along and attempt to keep our small Mac community united. I’ve been a Mac user for close to two decades and I’ve been noticing over the past couple of years that the growing fashion has been to complain and divide. And I’m not just talking about the whole Delicious Generation thing…there’s been a lot of it going on by a handful of select “journalists” and I strongly feel that it doesn’t serve our platform well.
There’s no doubt that thoughtful conversation is welcome and with that you’ll get disagreement. I’m not advocating sycophantism here. My gripe had been with what appeared to be with “Mac-lynchmobs” and I think (hope) that we’ll be seeing less and less off that as time goes on.
I feel that the turnout at the party reinforces that Mac devs in general are all about making the best apps they can possibly make. Attempting to do things like Apple would is a model for success. Pulling that off takes more than just programming skill. It was getting to the point where if an app looked good, it’d be dismissed as “form over function” which is completely ridiculous.
A Tricking Stream
We had live streaming of the party going but it had it’s share of hitches to say the least. Here’s the recorded feed and you’ll especially find the first half-hour or so highly entertaining…that is if you like watching grass grow:
I’d like to take this time to send out a HUGE thanks to all the sponsors of the party. Without them this party simply couldn’t have happened in the form that it did.
Thursday was wind-down day. Jacqui and Clint from ars technica scheduled a a video interview with us then and that was fun to do. They also had some problems with audio but were able to add some subtitles to the video at least.
When you view the vid, it seems like me coughing killed the audio but I think it was just coincidence. I’ve gotta get rid of those sunglasses…they make me look kinda arrogant but I swear I’m a real sweetie in-person.
At night was Apple’s WWDC Bash (formerly known as the Campus Bash). We stuck around for a while then moved some of the party up to the terrace for our final nightly get-together.
Friday: Yosemite Trip
On Friday Austin, Trygve Inda of EarthDesk fame, and I headed over to Yosemite for a post WWDC mini-vacation. My expectations were probably set a little high as it was simply too crowded for my taste. For comparison’s sake, yesterday I hiked a mountain near my house and we literally saw 8 people on the trail, while at Yoesimte you’ll typically see that many per minute. I’m sure there are lots of hidden gems there that we didn’t know of but just about all the places we hiked were “great-grandparent-friendly” with paved paths. But there’s no doubt that the sights there are amazing to see so it was worth it for that at least.
We were slated to fly home the following Wednesday but our airline overbooked our flight by 12 people. The stress level was pretty high at the gate as there were lots of people unsure that they’d be getting out that night and several flight workers trying to iron out the situation.
When they announced an offer of a bump to 1st-class and a free ticket for a flight anywhere in the US by postponing our flight to the next day, Austin and I immediately jumped on the deal. Ah, the beauty of being indie devs…one guy next to us tried to take up the offer too but after calling his employer, he didn’t get “permission”. They put us up in the Hyatt for free and we watched the worst movie ever there that night since there’s not much to do at night around the hotels near the SF airport. The following stock photo is a totally inaccurate dramatization of our final flight experience:
So after a nice, comfy flight home, we’re back to the daily grind and looking forward to the next SF trip: Macworld Expo in January…
A Delicious EventPosted June 8, 2007 at 2:28 pm by John Casasanta
We’re in San Francisco for WWDC now so we’ll be taking a bit of a hiatus from posting here until we get back. But we want to tell you about a great party that we’re throwing if you’ll be around…Party for a Delicious GenerationAustin, Phill “dude-will-you-tell-people-I-have-nothing-to-do-with-that-olives-crap” Ryu, and I have been scrambling to pull together what is shaping up to be a pretty killer party.Phill and I constantly fight about what seems to be everything but I’d like to take a sec to say that he really worked his ass off on this party so far. Much of the credit for how this turns out is deserved by him.Also, we put up a new “olives in the news” page for some of the media coverage we’ve been getting since launching.
Do Not Adjust Your Screen…This is an Exercise in MarketingPosted May 31, 2007 at 9:56 am by Austin Sarner & John Casasanta
So what’s this all about?
The past year has been pretty crazy for us. From My Dream App to MacHeist and Disco to iClip 4, it’s been kind of nonstop and a bit overwhelming. Overall, we’re both numb from all of the experiences. We went from being relative nobodies in the indie Mac dev world to, well, slightly better known nobodies.
Creating software is one of those things that can easily become a monotonous task that closely resembles a 9-5 desk job. That’s why we never take the traditional approach and always choose the road less traveled. We love creating experiences and creating relationships with users, but we also try to have as much fun as possible developing and leading up to shipping a new product. Building the foundation of these relationships starts with a solid introduction and first impression. With the Disco blog, for instance, Austin allowed people to join in and watch the development process.
Development Isn’t Simply the Key to a Successful App
Including users in these new ways has allowed us to introduce innovation to our marketing. Update, release, repeat…we’ve fallen into this trap in the past while we focused only on putting out the next minor update to be on the front page of MacUpdate. While this traditional formula is a proven way to build up your app’s recognition over long periods of time, we’ve discovered that putting as much thought and effort into our marketing as the actual development of our software works amazingly well.
The word “marketing” is often perceived to have negative connotations. When we started out in software development, we didn’t have much respect for marketing…we were programmers first and foremost and didn’t want to “stoop down to that level of the filthy marketers.” In retrospect, we realized that it was mainly fear that was preventing us from making an effort to effectively market our products.
We felt at home programming, but we had no experience with marketing so we chose the easy route to dismiss it and just complain when our software sold poorly. We’ve seen this time and time again with other developers too. The path of least resistance is often to do nothing and then complain about it.
When we finally gained respect for marketing and embraced it things changed dramatically. Without marketing, nobody will ever find out about your products. The key is to do it in a tasteful way. Among other things, we plan to talk further about our ideas and practices on marketing, software design, etc.
Not so long ago, the two of us were brainstorming new application ideas. We wanted something that we could have a good time bringing to market and creating, and we eventually found an idea that we were happy with. Well, we have a ton going on right now (see above), so we brought the talented Sophia Teutschler and Ollie Wagner on board to help. Billed as the ultimate Mac shareware side project (not to mention the least ambitious software project ever…the savvy Mac reader will get that reference), the app we’re developing is going to be a culmination of all four of our experiences in the shareware scene over the last years. Our goal is to combine what we’ve learned in every aspect of the Mac shareware biz and deliver a killer experience worthy of being called delicious.
And speaking of the whole “Delicious Generation” thing, we’ve taken Paul Kafasis’ narcissistic, pessimistic, manipulative, envy-driven rant and turned his negative “flashy but frivolous apps” meaning into a positive one. We’ve co-opted the phrase to relate to apps that strike a great balance between form and function. Form and function aren’t mutually exclusive. And this is what we’re about.
Blogging and Tweeting as a Means to an End
Along with this new app, we’ve decided to start this blog where we could post our thoughts, opinions, and other ramblings about Mac development and other related topics. The two of us seem to like the idea of blogging but neither one of us are
self-centered motivated enough to actually delve into personal blogging. John registered his personal domain over two years ago and he’s been sitting on it ever since. Like Austin, he’s been pack-ratting a ton of blog post ideas that have never seen the light of day. So this so-called “development journal” will be our outlet for them.
In addition, we’ll be tweeting, since this is the fashionable flavor of the month and we wouldn’t want to look outdated, right? (To put it mildly, John hates Twitter.)
While we work on this side project, you’ll find rants on any number of “extremely interesting” subjects here. Right now, we aren’t ready to reveal anything on the app itself yet, but news and details of it will certainly be made known in time. For now we hope you subscribe and check back when we’ve posted some more content.
That’s all for now, stay tuned…
Actually, hold up a bit. We’ve got a few gripes here. In fact, we’ve got quite a few gripes. Probably more than most people could imagine. We’ll limit it to said few, for now. As we’re gearing up for this new project, we’re also bracing for impact as we wait on people like Erik Barzeski to send us a friendly email, exchange emails, write a positive review, then come full circle and write a “me-too” post when hating on our software becomes the popular thing. Or better yet, maybe we’ll get a Paul Kafasis situation where he goes on a tirade about our software, only to later act like he was never the aggressor. Maybe we could even get a Gruber post fueled with another extremely well thought out bit of logic about selling beta software or perhaps even a completely uninformed, highly speculative statement about our sales figures and what cuts we’re giving to people.