Saturday, April 25, 2009
One year ago I could not run even 1 km without stopping. Yesterday I ran my first Marathon – the whole 42.195 km!
What an experience! Nothing that words can explain. It was 4+ hours (4:14’30’’) of joy and pain (what a pain) which taught me a few things:
- There are no shortcuts – you must practice, practice and practice to be able a beat the beast
- It’s not your legs that would fail you but your head – a continuous fight between your brain and your body –“Don’t feel my legs. Shall I stop? No! Must go on!”. Or in other words – “If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. But never give up!”
- Everyone needs a partner – I had Buddy Runner ‘who’ woke up with me in the early mornings for a run in the last 4 months and kept me motivated all the long way (unfortunately I spilt too much water on myself until my phone died after 3.5 hours).
- I love my family – my wife and kids waited for me in 4 different locations. Gave me isotonic drinks and energy gels (yuck), ran with me a bit but most important – gave me a reason to continue.
The run itself was painful, painful and painful. So why did I do that? I started writing the answer but understood that it is something that could not be explained…
And if you think yesterday was painful, this how I feel today.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
3 weeks ago, when Buddy Runner was released, I did not imagine the impact it would cause.
In these 3 weeks since we released it there were more than 5000 downloads. Is this an impressive number? Don’t know but I can say that it exceeds my expectations as this is not an ifart application. Downloading the app is the easy part, afterwards you need to put on your sport outfit and go for a run. Of course, not all users use it for running - some use it for biking, some for walking, some even for skiing and some just for fun. The real impressive point is that the number of people using Buddy Runner on a regular basis is increasing every day.
As I wrote in the past, the pleasure of having satisfied users (check comments and rating) is enormous and motivates us to keep investing in Buddy Runner (and other buddies). We have several good ideas and it is now the art of prioritization and execution to keep delivering superb product(s).
I hope to find the time to post some details on the technology under the hood. For the tech guys it must be interesting to get a glimpse of what I learned during this time.
Until next time, keep running!
Monday, January 19, 2009
I’m proud to announce that Buddy Runner was released!
Instead of investing in expensive sport watches, you can turn your mobile phone (currently Google Android) to one. Buddy Runner allows you to track your workout, while clearly providing statistical info and real-time voice feedback during the workout.
Go ahead and check my dashboard at http://www.buddyrunner.com/yossi.pik
Yep, this is what kept me busy in the last weeks and probably will keep me busy going forward as now there are real users (500 downloads in the first 12 hours) with feature requests and bugs to fix (not much).
So, if you have a G1 phone, go to Android Market and get yourself a buddy to run with.
keep following me at http://www.buddyrunner.com/yossi.pik
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Following my previous statement ‘coding is fun’, I had some long coding hours which reminded me the complexity of developing a real product.
The first thing coming to mind is the 80/20 rule – it takes 20% of the time to complete 80% of the product but the remaining 20% take the rest 80% (there are several variations of this rule).
In practice, developing a cool demo is relatively easy. Many sources/samples are available on the web. The underline platforms do provide much of the basic functionality needed. Cutting corners is fine (actually it is a must). And it is clear who will click where and when.
But… converting it to a real product is a different story. Dealing with edge-cases, ensuring scalability to support many users, ensuring the architecture will be extendable in future releases, working on a pixel perfect UI and many other activities take much more time than the first quick-and-dirty demo.
So, is the statement ‘Coding is fun’ still correct? I would still say yes, mainly because of the satisfaction of creating something using your two hands (keyboard and a mouse).
The context of that is the initiative I’m working on – it is going to be shipped next week! As the first user to work with it I can ‘objectively’ say it’s a great product.
As the application monitors a run (among other things it does), it is challenging to test the scalability to deal with large data as you need to actually record the run. Therefore on last Saturday I ‘had’ to run 18km. Any volunteers for testing a marathon :-)
Saturday, December 20, 2008
One might claim that users can be a real pain - they have requests, find bugs and cause you deal with boring maintenance tasks rather than developing the next version. It is probably true, but…
"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"
So – “If a product was developed and no one uses it, does it exist?”
Following the previous post (coding is fun), I believe it is much more fun when real users use what you coded (and of course like it).
A few days ago I found out that my ‘first Facebook application’ was downloaded and used by ~100 people. It was a very pleasant surprise.
This is one of the advantages when targeting end-users and not huge companies (consumer vs. enterprise) – the cycles are very short and you can have your product being used by users very fast.
Leveraging this advantage, we are going to ship in a few weeks our first Android application.
To double the fun, the idea of the application is based on my other hobby – running. More details to follow…
Happy Hanukkah, Mary Christmas and Happy New Year!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
At SAP I spent the last few years mainly at meetings, writing PowerPoint and Word documents, attending conf-calls and… meetings, meetings, meetings… actually doing whatever was needed for managing a large team. As far as I can remember, I enjoyed it.
Now, working in a bootstrap mode, I got back to write code. PowerPoint was replaced by Eclipse and Visual Studio. I really forgot how fun it is.
Being a developer is quite cool.
I was afraid that I’m rusty and not up to date with all new technologies but it seems that my experience pays off.
At the beginning it looks like software development became simple: google->copy->paste->refactor->compile->deploy->eat pizza (actually not sure about the last part). However, still, for development of high scale programs, software engineering skills and unavoidable.
To make it more interesting, I’m developing using several technologies
Device- Google Android OS (Apps are written in Java and run on a custom VM which runs on top of a Linux kernel)
Web Service - .Net – (to be replaced with a ‘cloud technology’)
Web client – Flex (to achieve rich client experience)
I should dedicated a post for the android SDK + Emulator (Google did a good job), but in the meantime I found myself awake at very late hours debugging my code.
Did I already say that coding is fun :-)
P.S. I found this picture lately. Given the current economic situation, it's not so funny.
Friday, October 24, 2008
The power of children is amazing. They have a built-in convincing power. If they want something they will get it.
The fact that children do not have credit card does not prevent them from spending money. This is why they have parents…
Club Penguin is an online game for children, virtual penguins in a virtual world. You can earn some coins by playing some games and spend it by buying stuff for yourself. You can chat with other penguins and do harmless regular social network things. The registration is free and gives you a taste of what could be the done.
But, and there is a big but, you need to be a member for being able to get the fun stuff. The membership costs ‘only’ $5.95 per month.
Now, do you think that a child that his/her friends are members will not convince his/her parents to pay for it? If your answer was ‘no’ you better think again.
I don’t know the exact numbers but I believe that Disney (who bought it 2 years ago for $350M) is having many paying users. It seems Club Penguin found the formula.
I’m relatively new to the club. My daughter convinced me a week ago to pay for membership. So they managed to caught her but will she insist on paying for the second month or will she get bored of it? I know the answer for that – after one month you can be promoted to a spy (never mind what it means) so the second month is guaranteed. What about the month after?