Planning Study 2.1

Back in April 2010 (was it really that long ago?) I wrote a post called Planning Study 2.0 showing how I was using a free online application called Floorplanner to work out whether it was feasible to move my study  from the former garage upstairs into bedroom four.

Then we discovered that we were expecting Isaac and those plans were put on hold. Bedroom four was to become Isaac’s room and my study would need to remain in the “garage room”.

Fast forward a couple of years and it became clear to us that Isaac was going to need a larger room. So Jane and I dusted down our plans and we decided to sacrifice the guest bedroom to move Isaac into, then the study would move into Isaac’s old room, and finally the garage room would become a second living room/lounge with the option of a sofa bed or inflatable double-mattress on the floor.

Initial plan — study 2.0

This was my initial plan from April 2010.

Proposed floor plan of relocated study
Initial floor plan of relocated study

Revised plan — study 2.1

My revised plan of Summer 2012, rotated 90° right.

Plan of study
Final plan

And so during the last couple of months we’ve slowly moved things around. Isaac moved rooms first of all, and then the study steadily moved upstairs. Bookcases and books first, then the filing cabinet and Ikea Poäng chair, and finally my desk (which I had to completely dismantle to get out through the former garage’s sliding door and back in through the front door).

So, here are the 3D renderings from Floorplan to compare with photographs of how the actual room looks.

Looking south

Floor plan of study shown in 3D
Floor plan of study shown in 3D (looking south)
My study, showing from left to right: filing cabinet, desk and bookcase
My study, showing from left to right: filing cabinet, desk and bookcase

Looking west

Plan of study, shown in 3D
Floor plan of study shown in 3D (looking west)
My study, looking towards the window, with chair and bookcases
My study, looking towards the window, with chair and bookcases

Conclusion

Floorplanner has been a really useful tool. As I said in my initial review, the free account is limited to only one plan (although you can join rooms together to create, for example, a whole floor) but that has been enough for our requirements.

We are now beginning to use it to plan what to do with the old study (the “garage room”). How can we fit in a sofa or two, and still make it comfortable for guests to sleep in? I’ll report back once we’ve worked it out.

Creating a web app with Ryan Singer of 37signals

Ryan Singer at Future of Web Apps, London 2010 from Ryan Singer on Vimeo.

I’ve long been impressed with the quality, simplicity and focus of the web applications that emerge from US company 37signals. I’ve used Basecamp very successfully as a project collaboration tool on a couple of web projects.

If you’re interested in web design or web apps and you’ve not read either of their books Getting Real (US $25) or Rework (US $22) then you’re missing out, they contain some fabulous insights. If you don’t fancy forking out for them, Getting Real at least can be read online for free.

This is a talk that I’ve been meaning to blog about for ages. It was given by Ryan Singer of 37signals at the Future of Web Apps 2010 in London. Here’s what he says about the talk:

In this talk, I walk through the steps of creating a web app including modeling, sketching, HTML, Photoshop explorations, and moving from static mockups to live running code. Each step is illustrated with a real example, including some live sketching and live HTML. I also wanted to give a sense of how we think about apps at 37signals, as a stack of different levels that we can iterate on individually.

A few points that I got out of this:

  • What can I do now that will simplify this?
  • Sketching out ideas in HTML, rather than first mocking then up in Photoshop or Fireworks, is clearly the way forward.
  • Emphasise the things that are important.

Mobile attitudes–how many apps do you have installed?

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In this month’s .net magazine there is an interesting article about Mobile attitudes that focuses on who is accessing the Web via mobile devices and why.

Based on research by MRM London, they group mobile Web users into one of four camps:

  1. Rookie – tend to be older, watch less TV, listen to less radio and surf the Web less than others. They tend to have around 9 apps installed on their smartphone, if they indeed have a smartphone.
  2. Rationalist – generally between 25-45, they are happy to use the Web on their mobile device but are very selective about what they access. They have a general lack of understanding about what extra value their mobile access can offer them.
  3. Everyday – mostly under 35, these are heavy mobile Web users who understand the value that mobile Web offers, but they would generally prefer to be sat in front of their desktop PC/Mac or laptop.
  4. Restless – for this demographic, mostly under 34, the mobile Web is an integral part of their everyday life. They understand what value mobile usage brings, and they consume a lot of media, not just online but TV, radio, magazines, etc.

Western

Something that struck me about the article was how Western these categories are. I wonder what differences there would be if this study was extended worldwide. How about mobile users in Africa or China or India, for example?

Mobile Web is just going to get bigger, user base will be larger and more and more developers will need to think about their mobile strategy more than they do now.

How many apps do you have installed?

The article talked about the number of apps that users tend to have installed. I guess the implication was that the more confident the mobile user about what they do online the more applications they would have installed.

I suspect (I hope) that HTML5 will change all of that as more mobile browsers become more capable of running complex Web apps that these app downloads will move to becoming simply website/web app URL bookmarks.

Anyway, it reckoned that the average user has 20 apps installed, of which they use less than half; rookies have only 9 installed, and those labelled restless have 42.

I’ve recently spent a lot of time on my mobile phone (stuck in bed for days after damaging my back, other blog post soon), and have just uninstalled the apps that I don’t use in order to free up memory and speed up my HTC HD2 running Windows Mobile 6.5.

What I have installed

Here’s what I now have installed (in not particular order), which are the apps that I actually use. This doesn’t include default apps that came bundled with the HTC HD2.

  1. Opera Mobile 10
  2. Spb Mobile Shell 3.5 (replacement user-interface)
  3. Spb Wallet (password safe)
  4. BBC News
  5. Nitrogen (MP3 player)
  6. SimpleAct QuickMark (QR code scanner)
  7. Mobipocket Reader (eBook reader for .mobi format)
  8. CoPilot Live 8 (GPS)
  9. Leaf GPS Dashboard (GPS toolkit)
  10. Panoramic moTweets (Twitter client)
  11. Microsoft Office Mobile 2010
  12. JAM Software TreeSize Mobile
  13. MSN Weather
  14. Gmail (Java app)
  15. SKTools (Registry editor, free-up RAM, temp file cleaner tools, etc.)

How many apps do you have installed on your smartphone? Do you use them all?

The app ideas on The Apprentice were rubbish… how hard can it be?

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I’ve just finished watching the second episode of the current series (series 7) of The Apprentice on BBC 1 during which the challenge was for the two teams to design, launch and promote their own mobile phone app[lication].

The boys created a border-line racist app with annoying voices. The girls an app with annoying sounds.

If I’d been on The Apprentice I’m sure I could have come up with better ideas. In fact, I’m going to prove it by blogging my ideas live. Right now. Watch:

  • IDEA #1: Often you’ll be out and about with your phone. Maybe you’re running late, perhaps for an interview or a meeting. Maybe you’re just tired. Why not create a mobile phone app that’s also a bike, so you can just sit on it and it will allow you to pedal yourself to your destination!

Genius! See how easy that was?

  • IDEA #2: An app that makes the most out of the accelerometer (motion sensor) built into a lot of mobile devices these days. So it’s an app that helps you tie your tie. You first attach your mobile phone to the end of your tie, using bulldog clips or elastic bands or something, then the app talks you through tying a tie: “That bit over and then under and then through…”

Wow! I’m on a roll.

  • IDEA #3: Jane and I like our toast to be different levels of cooked-ness. Jane likes hers to be very brown, I like mine to be borderline hot-bread. How about an app that you run, tell it what colour brown you’d like your toast to be, then you pop your phone into the toaster (beside your slice of bread) and it will play an alarm when your toast has reached the right level of brown. Obviously it would need to use the camera for that.

Practical! Although, I suspect like a lot of apps that’s one that will not be used very often. Presumably because it would help educate folks about how long bread needs to be in the toaster until it reaches their ideal state.

  • IDEA #4: How about an app that you run when you’re standing next to a busy road. The interface would be nice and simple. First you enter your average walking speed in (metres per hour or fathoms per second), then you press a “check now!” button which activates your device’s in-built camera which you point first one direction and then the next, pausing for a minimum of 7 seconds each direction. Then… and this is the really clever bit… the app will play an alert of your choosing (from the three available: a horn; the sound of a gibbon slurping ice cream; or the same horn, but played in French) so you know when it’s safe to cross the road.

I imagine that that’s the kind of app that could save lives.

See! Not a single idea there that involves racist stereotypes or annoying sounds.