The perfect app for caffeine-dependent Webchallengers?

With the Twin Cities Overnight Website Challenge a mere 38 days away, it’s time to start thinking stay-awake strategy. Enter Caffeine Zone 2, a handy little app spied on Lifehacker.

What does it do? As far as I can tell it lets your track your caffeine usage and tells you if you that cup of coffee will perk you up or just give you rotgut without any of the stimulating side effects.

Here’s what the product pages says about the app, “provides a simulation of caffeine amount and some indications of the psychological effects. It helps you learn to use caffeine products more wisely. It is not intended to be used as a medical device, but as a demonstration of pharmacokinetics of caffeine.”

Sevnthsin wins RACIE award, makes us blush

First of all, congratulations to Sevnthsin & JC Penney on their Racie award for the JC Penney Weekly Deals iPhone App.

Second of all, thank you for mentioning us in your post announcing the win. We’re always happy to help!

“Congrats to all involved, especially our boys down at The Nerdery who moved mountains at the 11th hour many a time during the pre-holiday build up.”

Government 2.0


In the Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln said, “. . . that this nation, under God [sorry atheists, I didn’t say it. Abe did.], shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

It’s such a beautiful sentiment, that whole “of the people, by the people, for the people.” But for most us our civic duty, our involvement with government and the laws that govern us ends when we get that ‘I Voted’ sticker. They say you can’t fight City Hall, and who would want to? It always seems like a nightmare of red tape and bureaucracy (I read about half of Kafka’s The Trial and it frightened me away from local governing bodies).

But now you can make a difference right from your iPhone.

Today, ReadWriteWeb has an in-depth review of DIY Democracy billed as “the ultimate civic engagement app. It connects users to three branches of government for everything from reporting potholes to protesting federal laws.” Of course, we’re a little partial to the app because The Nerdery helped build it. You should download it now (it’s free) and give it a try.

Nerds in the News: Our savvy developers talk about iPhone Apps with Finance and Commerce

It seems to be all Apps all the time here this week. First we had Jon’s post about Flash Apps on the iPhone, and now Finance and Commerce is in on it. In fact, Jon (along with our own Andrew) is quoted in yesterday’s New technologies, savvy developers in line to give iPhone a run for its money article. You should read it. And make sure not to miss the iPhone: I love thee, I love thee not sidebar.

Flash Apps on iPhone! The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

Yesterday at Adobe MAX, Adobe dropped a bombshell. In the upcoming version of the Flash Pro (Flash CS5), developers will now be able to export directly to iPhone. This isn’t an Adobe Flash Player on the iPhone, but rather full applications being exported to native iPhone byte-code. For a place like The Nerdery, it turns our army of Flash Developers into a potential army of iPhone developers. This has really energized the Flash developer community, but some of the iPhone pundits are starting to harrumph about the downsides as well. This also comes on the heels of the announcement of a product called MonoTouch that allows .Net developers to write native iPhone applications as well. It seems like everyone is finding ways to get their favorite programming language to work on an iPhone.

Personally, I’ve spent my first amount of time here at The Nerdery as a Flash/Flex developer until I moved to become one of our senior-most mobile developers. I have the unique position of spending *a lot* of time in both environments. Being in this position, I have some thoughts on the whole situation:

First off, the positives. It is much, much easier to write code in Actionscript (the language that drives Flash applications) than it is to write Objective-C (the language that drives iPhone applications). Ted Patrick, the Platform Evangelist at Adobe, released source code and a applications that, in my estimation, would take 3-4 times longer to write natively in Objective-C. Flash is king at animation and ease of development which will allow for people to make potentially great looking games very quickly.

Also, as hinted at before, the developer pool just grew exponentially. Before, iPhone applications were the realm of developers who wanted to climb the steep learning curve of Objective-C and it’s wonky syntax. Apple announced in late September that there were 125,000 registered iPhone developers. This number could easily grow into the millions now. This will drive down the cost of developing iPhone applications and make this space much more competitive.

So, if it’s faster and cheaper what could be the downside? Just like the old saying in project triangle – “Fast, good, and cheap — pick two,” this comes at the cost of quality. iPhone applications aren’t easy to make and there are a lot of nuances to getting an application just right. In the previously mentioned samples from Ted Patrick, a simple app of putting four circles on the stage and spinning them comes in at a whopping 3.7 MB. Adobe also pointed at seven applications that were developed in Flash Pro CS5 that averaged in size of 10 MB. This is in contrast to the size of the apps developed The Nerdery that average 2.3 MB. . . and I’d wager our apps are just as graphically rich as theirs and as full featured. Why is this important? At 10 MB, your application can no longer be installed over AT&T’s wireless network and your iPhone user needs to find a wifi hotspot or go back to their computer to download the app on iTunes.

It may be that file size is acceptable since your application is going to be large anyway. Using my personal iPhone, and handing it around to our other developers at The Nerdery, performance on these apps has been uniformly been described to as “less than ideal” and “there clearly needs to be some optimization here.”

Then there is the ugly. Apple isn’t the type of company that sits back and lets people circumnavigate the rules that they have laid out. Apple likes having the keys to the development kingdom and don’t like other companies playing around in it. One can see this in the fact that Apple creates new versions of iTunes seemingly just to break the ability of the Palm Pre to sync music with iTunes.

In the iPhone SDK agreement, Apple mentions that you may not “decompile, reverse engineer, disassemble, attempt to derive the source code of, modify, decrypt, or create derivative works of the SDK.” So how will Apple react to this potential violation of the SDK? They have pulled apps that had Google Voice support, so it wouldn’t be unprecedented for Apple to pull these apps. Also, what happens if Apple creates a new firmware update that is incompatible with Flash apps? How responsive will Adobe be to changes in the firmware and releasing patches to Flash Pro?

It should be noted this is all speculation as well. Apple may have blessed this whole process and those concerns are moot. It just seems strange that Apple wouldn’t have been announced as a partner in all of this if they hadn’t.

This is very exciting new for Flash developers. If this is an approved way of developing apps, sign me up. However, until a release date for Flash Pro is announced or Apple comes out and says they endorse or disapprove of this method of creating iPhone applications, I think the only thing that we here at The Nerdery can say for creating iPhone apps in Flash Pro is “caveat emptor.”

Attend an iPhone & Objective C talk at The Nerdery

There seemed to be a lot of great iPhone links zipping around Twitter, so it made sense to put them all in one place. Plus, it provides the perfect opportunity to blog about the tech talk The Nerdery’s Jon (who made the Distance to The Nerdery iPhone app) and Minh will be giving next week.

The talk will be about iPhone Development and Objective C hosted at 6:30 on May 13th (that’s a week from today) right here at The Nerdery (9555 James Ave. S., Suite 245. If you’re interested in attending leave a comment (or e-mail me I do believe Tom has promised free pizza, so we’ll need to know ahead of time if you’re coming so we order enough.

And to prepare for the talk you can take a look at these resources

(Thanks to @malbiniak and @rexisen for the links)

How far are you from The Nerdery?


In days of yore sailors used a sextant and the north star to measure their distance from home and to guide them on their journeys. Times have changed. Now nerds can use the Nerdery distance iPhone app and never have to wonder how far they are from The Nerdery.

This handy app was built by our own Jon Rexeisen just for the fun of it and he’s giving it away in the iTunes store. So far it’s been downloaded by people in the US, Japan, Russia, China, Columbia, Brazil, Hungary, UK, Canada, and South Africa because nerds all around the world need to know how far away they are from nerdvana.