Hacker Garage

Hacker Garage – A place for all your tools.

Hacker GarageThis site was originally intended to be a “portfolio padder,” but during the process of creating it I found a semi-permanent contracting position! Hacker-Garage is a directory of tools that can be used to start a website or small business. I am hoping to get some help populating the directory as I only touched upon a small portion of what is out there.

If you have any suggestions, or perhaps have a small business that fits into the Hacker-Garage categories, please leave a comment so I can add it to the list!

pic-mapper

Pic-Mapper.com Pinpoint GPS Enabled on a Map

pic-mapperWhile chatting with the guys at one of my favorite fishing forums, I had a fun opportunity to impress a few of the old timers with my technological prowess. You see, at these fishings forums a lot of the guys will share pictures of their catch. But, many go to great lengths to try and hide any distinguishable details from the photo so others won’t discover their “secret fishing spots!”

Unfortunately for one of the members, they forgot to remove the GPS coordinates that was included in picture’s meta data. I was able to figure out exactly where his “secret spot” was by plugging the GPS data into Google Maps. While doing this, I realized there was no tool or service to make this process simple. So, I created pic mapper!

On Pic-Mapper.com anyone can drag an image onto the page, and a Google Map will pop-up showing the location where the image was taken. It will only work with photos that were taken on a GPS enabled device (smartphones).

under-the-sea

Under The Sea Concept Art


Click to zoom.

I have a vision of a web-based childrens book that is interactive and animated. I really think this would be a good market to lock down, as the popularity of tablet computers is sky-rocketing.

I created some concept art to play around with ideas and while I will not be animating this scene anytime soon, I wanted to get this out there as I am really proud of how it turned out. The background was created in Photoshop, and the characters were done in Illustrator.

 

 

 

Ruben Rose Young Me Now Me

Happy 50th Anniversary Ruben & Rose

Update: Wow, this picture made it to the front page of Reddit! Over 200,000 folks have seen this image!

Today, I am celebrating my girlfriends grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary. The more I think about it, the more astonished I become. Fifty years is a long…. time! I put this image together, inspired by Ze Frank’s Young Me Now Me page, of Ruben & Rose 50 years ago to now. Here is to 50 more.

View from my front door.

I ♥ Hipstamatic

I ditched the default camera app on my iPod touch and started using Hipstamatic! It makes taking great, vintage, photographs really easy. I was cleaning off my hard drive today and stumbled across a few that I do not want to loose…

Peets Coffee

 

gotsmile

HappyTeeth

 

Happy teeth is a direct result of reading The 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss. The idea, which came while sitting in the dentist chair, is for a product that can help someone overcome the anxiety of a dentist appointment. I decided to setup a mock landing page to judge whether or not anyone would actually be interesting in purchasing something like this. I tried to recreate the current apple landing page’s fade in design, I love the effect this creates.

At this point, this project is still in my back pocket. I ran a modest AdWords campaign to gauge interest, and I was not too impressed with the results. Although, I have also been watching what people say about the dentist on Twitter, and there is certainly a large group of people that have unnecessary fear of dental appointments. I may work on this project again in the future but I decided to “back burner” it and focus on BetterYoo.

BetterYoo ScreenShot

BetterYoo

Update

Boom! The  BetterYoo beta site is live and I am looking for folks to help me beta test before doing a formal release. I would love any input you have. Check it out @ BetterYoo Text Message Reminders

For the last few weeks, I have been pouring every waking hour into BetterYoo. I am very proud of the design and I wanted to feature it here on my blog despite, at the time of writing this post, the service is not being available yet. You can visit the site to get a better look, but you will find that the service prompts a message describing the state of our development.

Design-wise, a I made a few intentional subleties to strengthen our branding effort. The main character is an Elephant because the “elephant never forgets.” Being a reminder service, I figured this a perfect fit. I wanted to draw the elephant caricature myself, but after a few google image searches for inspiration I found a too perfect to be true elephant. Here he is to “scale” with the BetterYoo logo:

I am still doing some A/B testing to determine the best tagline. So far “Text Message Reminders” is the most intuitive choice. I am also considering/testing “Recurring Reminders” or “SMS Reminders”. The background for BetterYoo consists of a light gradient and a pattern that screamed “elephant skin” to me. I believe this subtle correlation does a lot to build branding. For an interface I decided to make it stupidly simple and I chose a pastel green color base.

mzm.berhhvhu.175x175-75

Into_Now iPhone App Review

Price: Free

I decided to make short write ups on some of my favorite, or newly released, iPhone apps. Featured today is Into_Now, a television tagging & check in app. It is a bit like Foursquare for your TV. The sleekest part of this app, is the ability to automatically determine what is playing on your television at any time! The technology uses low-frequency sound waves picked up from your device’s microphone. According to the Into_Now team, low frequencies are more immune to distortions. It encodes the “most diferenciating characteristics” from the low end into a digital fingerprint which it streams to their server. From there, their technology will determine what you are watching and ping back a result like the one below.

Why Should I Use This?

If you are like me, you might be wondering “why anyone would want to do this?” I pondered for a bit while playing with Into_Now and I realized a few use cases that I would take part in. First, Netflix “Watch It Now” has become a staple in my life. Every night before bed, my girlfriend and I decide who is holding the laptop and browse over to Netflix to check out our nightly viewing choices. We usually end up either watching a documentary, or,  a TV series. We have discovered some amazing shows through Netflix such as Breaking Bad, Dexter, Arrested Development, and 30 Rock. All the time now, at parties and such, I find myself saying “Do you have Netflix? Oh you do, you have to check out this documentary we just watched. It is amazing!” Into_Now will take all of the guess work of this process.

Another way I see myself, and others, using this app is for real time communication. I get made fun of a bit for this, but I am ready to relieve my Tivo. I much prefer  doing my watching live because I can almost always find an active Twitter hashtag chat on the show! Whether it be the A’s game, Jersey Shore, or The Real Housewives, someone is saying something about it on Twitter and I love being part of the conversation. Its like talking at the movies, if is fun but it now it pisses people off. Now, I can silently make my jabs and saccastic comments without annoying the hell out of whoever is sitting next to me.

How Are These Guys Making Money

Something else you might be wondering if you are like me is, “how are these guys going to make money?” This is where it gets really cool! In some capacity, anyone who has turned on the TV in the last 50 years is familiar with the Nielsen Ratings System. This is the group that determines a television shows “rating.” I happened to have been approached by Nielsen earlier this year and they offered me a chance to be part of their polling group. The way it works is, Nielsen installs a small piece of hardware onto your cable box. When you watch TV the hardware will send data on what you are watching back to Nielsen. In return for giving away your sacred data, Nielsen offers to pay their users on a monthy bases. This is how they figure their ratings. They have thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of televisions wired up with their hardware. Each of which is costing them money on a montly basis to use. Into_Now has the potential to completely revolutionize television ratings!

Also, Into_Now has plans to collaborate with advertisers. If you tag a commercial, this could bring up a special deal or coupon from the advertiser. Or, by tagging a live TV show one could be entered for a prize or raffle. There is a potential to make interactive ads. Between this and AR technology the future of television advertising is looking very interactive. Although, does the average joe really want to interact with their commercials? This is yet to be proven. Would you?

HelpWanted

Job Post – Hiring my first employee at $3.00/hr

Today, I am in the process of hiring my first employee! After reading The Four Hour Work Week, by Timothy Ferriss, I am taking one of his suggestions and and hiring an assistant. My plan is to hopefully spend no more than $3-$4/hr to have someone find content for my anonymous publishing website, Lettur.com.

I have been doing this myself for the last several of weeks with great results (Since launching a bit over a month ago, Lettur has seen over 20,000 unique visitors!) Although, for me it ends up being a bit of a big time sink as I am always lured in by interesting web content. My hunts for jokes, and other anecdotes, to post have an “Alice’s rabbit hole” effect on me.

Also, as suggested in the 4HWW, hiring an assistant is a great training exercise for any entrepreneur. It is important to possess the ability to clearly communicate tasks, and develop time management skills for someone else’s time.

To find my new employee, I decided to use ODesk. There are a few other alternatives listed on Tim’s blog, but I found ODesk to be the most user friendly and inviting. After a quick search, I found Tessa who seemed very competent and capable. So, I posted a job description and sent her a personal message. She lives in the Philippines and is willing to work for ~3.00/h. Perfect! Hopefully, we can setup an arrangement where she is spending ~.5 hour ever few days posting content for me. This will save me a ton of time, and cost less than cigarettes!

My Job Posting on ODesk:

Lettur.com is an anonymous publishing website.

Description:We are looking for someone to help find content such as jokes, quotes, funny sayings, stories, ect., to post on Lettur. Also, someone who can share these pages on social networking sites like Twitter and Reddit. This would be a fun and easy task!
Skills Needed:

  1. Good sense of humor.
  2. Familiarity with Reddit & Twitter.
  3. Decent reading/writing skills.

If interested, please respond with a few funny jokes!

In the past, I have tried to leverage Craigslist to fill similar needs by creating job posting for unpaid interns. Depending on the legitimacy and desirability of your brand, this can be successful. I often find music enthusiasts and aspiring writers, that are interested in writing blog posts for one of my music related websites. Although, for this particular position, I think hiring someone is the best fit.

I have a bit of a “here goes nothing” feeling. But, we’ll see how this goes. I will certainly update my blog with the status of my project. I really hope Tessa has a sense of humor! Stay tuned.

Tumblr_apple

Tumblr Custom Domain (or Subdomain) With FatCow Hosting

Having trouble setting up a custom domain on Tumblr through FatCow? Do not worry, it is possible. You can use your FatCow domain name on Tumblr, or do what I did and create a subdomain for your Tumblr blog. I use FatCow for most of my web hosting needs (I love the fact that they use solely wind power!) But, setting up an A-Record change on through their domain center tool required a bit of doing. Here is how:

  1. Open your FatCow control panel and select the DomainCenter option
  2. Hit the “+” button, on the domain you wish to modify, to open the options
  3. Select the DNS tab
  4. If you see two textboxes containing your nameservers you will need to do a live chat with FatCow tech support. I let them know I wanted to be able to change my A-Records and they made a quick change to my account that enabled the additional access.
  5. Otherwise, select the A-Record option.
  6. To change your domains A-Record simply hit edit and paste the  I.P. address provided by Tumblr.
  7. To setup a subdomain, add your subdomain name (ex blog) and the I.P. address provided by Tumblr.

Thats it! You are warned that these changes can take between 24-48 hours. Although, I found that the change was instant! Hope you have the same luck. Feel free to comment or find me on twitter if you have any questions!

BlogChatSS

WordPress – Twitter Chat Widget (#Blogchat)

I wanted to create a WordPress widget to further my understanding of the software and its capabilities. I decided that I would take a stream from one of my favorite Twitter chats, #blogchat, and put into a widget! I am planning to release this widget officially this Sunday, during #blogchat. But, I wanted to give a few people a sneak peak. If you install the plug-in please do let me know how it works!

Features

  1. Toggle links On/Off.
  2. Customizable hashtag stream.
  3. Set number of messages to show.

EDIT: I removed the download link as I am no longer updating this widget.

Lettur Screen Shot

How To Tweet More Than 140 Characters

Tweet More Than 140 Characters

This week, I launched my latest website to the world, Lettur.com. Lettur lets anyone create a beautiful webpage, in seconds, without the hassle of registration. One of the reasons I created Lettur is to enable anyone to extend their 140 characters in twitter and share their full thoughts! Do you have something to say in more words than 140 characters can handle? Create a webpage on Lettur.com and then share the link!

Visit Lettur And Tweet More Than 140 Characters:

Laptops, Netbooks, and iPad's! Oh my!

Hot Launch – A Few New Tools I’ll Be Using

Laptops, Netbooks, and iPad's! Oh my!

I had the opportunity to attend a really interesting conference this week, Launch 2011. Over forty, never before seen, technology companies made their debut and competed for prizes and capital. I kept making the joke that after seeing all of these new products, it was going to take a week to get a chance to play with all of them. Before I dive in though, I wanted to share a few of my favorites that I know I will be using:


Disconnect is “a browser extension that stops major third parties and search engines from tracking whatweb pages you go to and searches you do.” I already installed disconnect, and unlike other similar plugins, it is is very discrete and easy to disable.


YouEye – As a web designer, I have been taught to imagine how the human eye scans, and processes, the information on a webpage. Perfecting the art of putting the right information in the right place is a delicate process. YouEye provides a user testing platform with webcam eye tracking! Formerly, this process required a workstation equipped with camera’s and specialized software. Definitely a resource for the big boys (i.e. the Googles, E-Bays, and Amazons) and never something that myself, a bootstrapped developer, could ever consider. Thanks YouEye, can’t wait to see what you come up with.


Music and technology are the two enduring passions in my life, so I was an instant fan of these guys. Gobbler provides a “DropBox like” file backup system designed specifically for musicians. Anyone who has even diddled with DAWs knows what I hassle file management can be. Also, loosing a drive can be a devastating event for anyone, but even more so for an artist loosing his original works. Gobbler solves this problem, and with lossless compression and some other nifty tricks, they do it efficiently.

Apps are in. There is no doubt about it. I have had several people approach me over the last several months expressing their interest to build an app. Everyone one has an idea, now everyone can create a mobile app regardless of their coding experience. Cabana is a web-based WSIWYG app development platform. It is still in beta at this point, but when this bad-boy is ready it is going be a head turner.


Mougg provides could based storage for music files. By uploading your music library to Mougg, one can access their tunes from any where from any device. Also, I specifically asked the guys if I could stream the same playlist on multiple players (effectively a poor-mans house-wide music system) and they said it could! I haven’t tested Mougg yet, but if it delivers on their claim I will certainly be using this one.

Honerable Mention: Pen.io – When I saw the presentation on Pen.io I nearly fell out of my seat. Pen.io provides the exact same functionality as my website Lettur.com, simple web publishing without an account. I have to give credit to the creator, Anthony Feint, he really nailed the UI and has a few features that I never thought of. I also have to admit that seeing the positive feedback on Pen.io has validated the idea and inspired me to continue work on the project. So, in the spirit of friendly competition, g’luck Tony.

pandoraradiohack

What Channel Should I Create In Pandora?

Whats your favorite band right now? Let me know, I want to check them out. I have been writing on my blog for the last few months and having a blast. Some of my posts have had pretty good traffic too. Particularly, my post about World of Warcraft addiction and also a quiz I created that tests your political preference.
Despite getting some descent traffic numbers, I really want to meet more people and interact with others through this webspace. So, please help me in this effort.

All you have to do is comment with your favorite band. I will stick it into Pandora and have a listen, then comment back on what I think!

Fun fun. Hope to hear from you.

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