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May 5, 2009

2

Every Trilogy Needs A Bad Ending

by shiftyjelly

In the last two posts, we’ve told you all about who designs our graphics and ruby magic. There is of course a third part being the iPhone Application itself. That’s where Russell Ivanovic comes in. Russell loves many things (like writing in the third person about himself and gratuitous use of brackets), but chief among them is building iPhone applications. The literary types among you will have to excuse him, because he’s about to go from the third to the first person, all while breaking the fourth-wall that separates yourselves from him.

Let’s start with a history lesson. When the iPhone first came out I, like many mac geeks around the world, watched the video stream with a childlike sense of wonder. I had dismissed all the rumours of an Apple phone as wishful thinking by the Cult of Mac, rather than anything to do with a real product. Then Steve got on stage and did his stuff, and introduced us all to a new phone a new iPod and a groundbreaking internet device. Needless to say I had to have one. Only a few months later I got my very own iPhone, courtesy of the wonderful people who invented forwarding addresses, and the nice people at FedEx. Then in June of the next year the iPhone SDK was announced, I was excited, but too busy to do anything about it. I like many people I signed up, downloaded the SDK, ran a sample app and then never opened Xcode again.

Fast forward to later that month, I was playing indoor soccer when someone kicked me really hard in the calf. As I turned around to give them a piece of mind, I realised that no one was there. Being the genius that I am, it took me a few hours to realise that I had actually snapped my achilles tendon (don’t try this at home kids). A few days later I had surgery and was told I wouldn’t be able to walk for two months! After a few weeks of sick leave, my work shipped out my iMac and all my other equipment and I started working from home. As I soon discovered without the distraction of meetings, coworkers and walking I was working a lot faster from home than I normally would from work. I also spent a lot of time waiting for people to respond to critical emails before I could do anything productive. This left me with a lot of downtime. Long story short, I started investing an hour or so a day of this downtime into Objective-C and the iPhone SDK.

At first it was incredibly confusing, I know a lot of people think that Objective-C and Xcode are the bees-knees of development, the same people I suspect who think that the Mighty Mouse is a good two button mouse. I work mainly with Java (and a bit of Javascript & Ruby) and to have to go back to memory management, header files and good ol’ unexplained application crashes was like trading in my 2000 model Mitsubishi for a Model T Ford. Let’s be frank, Xcode doesn’t hold a candle to IDEs like Netbeans and Eclipse. The result of all this painful learning and head banging was Pocket Sounds. The initial idea was to try and make back the $AUD120 that I had to pay Apple for becoming a registered developer as well as to figure out how the whole App Store worked. This was back in August of 2008, when the App Store was only a thousand or so applications and no one was really publishing stories of becoming instant millionaires from their basement. The result was astonishing…in the end over $1500 of money came back my way. Remembering that there was no expectation of even making my money back (let alone the time involved) this blew me away.

Giddy from all my success I began planning Pocket Weather AU, recruiting Nathan & Philip on the way. The rest as they say, is history.

To summarise our little trilogy of posts:

  • Shifty Jelly is made up of 3 people, each with complimentary and awesome skills in all the areas required for a good application (design – Nathan, back end – Phil, front end – Russell).
  • We work for love, not money (though to be fair my wife loves her new kitchen, which was payed for by money, ironic, I know)
  • As a general rule, no we won’t build your World Changing Application unless you are realistic about what these things cost, and are willing to wait the amount of time required for us to build it. Even then 99 times out of 100 we’ll still knock you back (see the above point). We certainly won’t share your revenue any more than we’ll share your risk.
  • Buy Pocket Weather AU so that my wife stays happy, no really I mean it, I need to do the floors in my house next, and at the current level of sales that’s going to take a while ๐Ÿ˜‰
2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jul 1 2010

    Chaps,

    I’m impressed to say the least. Not only do I REALLY like the end-products that you are creating, but I’m very much enjoying to read about how you actually made your apps.

    If you don’t mind me asking, which ISP are you using to host your back-end stuff for your iPhone apps? I know you’re saying that you’ll be moving your server to a private location, but I need to pick a server for my very first app, and I can’t afford a private server ;-(

    The other question is how do you slice and dice the nice graphics for your iPhone apps to make them look more interesting as opposed to having plain-looking, stock-standard iPhone app?

    Any tip you can give me on that topic would be much appreciated. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Oh, and BTW, yes I’m an Aussie too, I live and work in Brissie (I’m a GIS developer by day, and an iPhone hobbyist by night)…

    Keep up the great work!

    Cheers,
    Igor

  2. Jul 1 2010

    Hey Igor,

    Thanks! We host all our stuff on private servers now, in a place in Sydney. If you email us (support@shiftyjelly.com) I’d be happy to provide you with their details. They only do private hosting though. We started off with shared hosting at hostingrails.com, but it was just too unreliable…plus hosting it in Australia makes a huge difference to latency ๐Ÿ˜‰

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