What I've been up to for the past 6 months or so...

It’s been awhile since I did an update on the various things I’ve been working on, so I’m going to take a few quick minutes and try to do that right now…but partially because I can’t remember, and partially because the list would just be too long anyway, I’m only going to cover the last six months or so.

When I went through the quick list, even I was a bit surprised to see that I’ve been actively involved in at least twenty two projects over the past six months! It’s no wonder many of them are already in a decaying state (hey when you do 22 things, some are bound to be lousy in hindsight).

Anyway - here’s a quick rundown with a brief update on each.

WheresFlu mobile apps (iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry)

One of the bigger things I’ve been doing since the spring is building the WheresFlu mobile app as a client project. The iPhone and Android versions are finally available in their respective stores and the BlackBerry has been submitted (but I haven’t heard if it’s approved yet).

I did the bulk of the coding over the course of a month in the early spring, and then spent the time since doing the standard back-and-forth that all client work tends to involved (especially client work that is tied to a large corporation like Novartis – and I was one client removed from dealing with Novartis directly throughout most of the process [I technically worked with Boomerang Pharma. who in turn worked with Novartis as their client]).

In the end, I’m pretty happy with the initial version of the apps we got into the stores. I think they do what the client wanted, and they seem to look good across most devices. Of course there’s lots of little things I would like to upgrade or do different now…but I’ll save those for version two and the next contract ;-)

tomzy

Since about August, I’ve been working on a top secret project with Darren Herman labled Tomzy.

I’ve actually known about Tomzy for awhile prior to working on it, but only jumped in and took it over in the past couple of months when the developer Darren origionally contracted for the work decided to take a full time gig. and couldn’t commit any more time to finishing up Tomzy.

Because of all the other stuff I’ve been doing, I haven’t had nearly as much time as I would like to get Tomzy out the door, but it’s getting very close and I hope to reveal it to the world in the next week or two…so stay tuned!

bit.ly bundles

Since July I’ve been doing a contract gig. with bit.ly as a developer. Through the first couple of months I was working five days a week on bit.ly stuff…but in the last two months I’ve moved that down to three days a week so I could focus a couple of days a week on knowabout.it (a project I’ll mention more in a second).

Though I’ve dabbled in a bunch of different things while at bit.ly, the project I spent the most time on so far was the recently released bit.ly bundles. It’s a product that seems to be getting a lot of attention (and love) from people so far, and so it’s exciting to see and I’m proud to have played (a small) part in it.

reviews.com

I officially left reviews.com as a full time employee around Feb. of this year to help start Catchafire.org (another project I’ll mention in a second as well).

Even though I’m not on payroll, and I also don’t collect a consulting check, I strongly believe in supporting the work I’ve done…and so from time to time I’m still pitching in on little problems and projects for reviews. Though to be honest, because I’m so busy and it’s not a paying gig, I really limit the amount of time I put into anything reviews.com right now.

catchafire.org

As I mentioned above, in Feb. I left my full time gig at reviews.com to help start catchafire.org. I spent a couple of months building out an alpha version/prototype and getting a real feel for the project and the team.

Throughout that time, I came to the conclusion that I really wasn’t a great fit for the company (mostly because I just couldn’t get passionate about the problem we were solving)…so we began the process of finding a replacement.

As it turns out, it wasn’t that hard to find the perfect replacement and Andrew Lin took over the reigns at the end of June. Since taking over, I believe they have completely rewritten what I had done (though I *think* they did keep my basic design, they mostly just ported from PHP to Python and cleaned up a lot of the things that were undecided while I was involved).

From the outside, it looks like the project and the team is doing quite well without me (they’ve launched their official beta) and I believe they are already making some money. They’ve also added a bunch of people to the team and so it looks like they are nailing it on all fronts right now (proving once again, sometimes the key to a successful project is REMOVING me from it!).

Draftwizard.com

Nothing too exciting on this front, but I did put back up a very light weight system for the handful of hardcore Draftwizard members to stay in touch. We don’t use it all that much right now, but the hope is someday we’ll all find our way back to making it a part of our routine ;-)

eli.st

One of the things I do at bit.ly is just play with various ideas on top of the bit.ly data set as I come up with them. This was one of the early ones.

Basically, it takes any set of bit.ly users (who have made their history public) and let’s you mash them up into one stream. It’s a total proof-of-concept that just uses the public bit.ly API (so anyone could build this actually)…and I haven’t bothered to finish out the project, document it, or even mention it to anyone really (outside of this post of course).

I still think there’s some potential in this general idea, and so at some point I’ll bounce back to it and put in a little more time and energy.

Adium Plugin

Along the lines of just playing with interesting ideas around the bit.ly data set…one of the ideas Todd (one of the awesome guys at bit.ly) threw my way was to build an Adium Plugin to shorten links with bit.ly. It sounded interesting to me and so I built it (if you follow this blog, you already know I just posted about a code update for this as well).

fubnub.com

In an effort to fix the massively horrible UI issues that fubnub has, I started to rewrite the entire system. It’s not completely finished yet, but it’s in process.

halfbite.com

I’ve actually reused this domain for a handful of things over the years. The latest version is not ‘officially’ released and if you go to the homepage you’ll see a mostly blank page. However in the background is a fully functioning click tracking service.

Once released, anyone can take advantage of the service by installing a few lines of javascript on their own web sites. Once they do, the service will track any click a user makes on that site (and you can configure it to track the clicks for logged in users as well) and you can view custom reports on all the activity.

Currently this blog and knowabout.it are the only web sites using this service, but it’s actually working pretty good. So as soon as I get some free time, I’ll try to get this pushed out for others to take advantage of!

knowabout.it

Of all the things I’ve been working on, this is the most exciting to me…and it’s what we’re (Will Cole and I) are currently trying to build a real company around.

The core idea is a link collection service (very much like a modern delicious tied to your social streams). From that link collection we offer up all sorts of interesting services and features like search, recommendations, alerting, and lots of custom reporting.

For the forseable future, this will likely be my primary focus…so I won’t go into too much detail right now (don’t worry, I’m sure many more posts will be focused on things I’m doing around this).

nytech.info

For those of you that are into tech and know me, you’ve probably heard me talk about the Cheeseburger club. The idea here was to collect information on the people who go to a cheeseburger club and make it available on this site…but as with most things, I just haven’t had time to do much with it.

The core is in place, but the UI is seriously lacking (notice a trend here?).

rosterhelp.com

Rosterhelp is an old idea that is finally finding it way back into my attention span (thanks to knowabout.it actually).

The idea is to give people aggregated news from around the internet on the players on their fantasy rosters. The current version is built on top of a custom knowabout.it collection and will (hopefully) be a subscription based service.

The core of the system is actually up and running right now (completely open and free for now too!). It’s going to go through some serious updates in the next week or two, but feel free to play with it if you like and don’t forget to dump me feedback if you do!

tagli.st

This is a wow.ly related project that I started almost a year ago but for one reason or another never seem to get released (yes there are actually lots of projects that I never get released!).

The latest version is VERY close to being able to be released…though I don’t know when I’ll 'officially’ put it out there since my focus is more on knowabout.it than wow.ly stuff.

tiptug.com

Outside of all this computer stuff, I’m also a football coach for my sons flag football team, the Cub master for the Cub Scout Pack 59 in Stirling NJ, and I occassionally volunteer to help out with various school functions (not to mention dad to two sons and husband to one incredible wife!). Anyway through those activities it’s become painfully obvious to me that a 'better’ chore list app needs to built.

Tiptug was the start of my attempt to do that. The basic idea would be a simple sign-up sheet that anyone could contribute to (sign up for tasks, etc.)…but again, haven’t had time to really finish it out.

whopostedit.com

This was a simple facebook/twitter game idea. It randomly pulls a facebook or twitter message from your wall and then shows you four of your friends pictures…you have to pick which of the four pictures is the one that the message is from.

Shortly after I started playing with the idea, someone else hit Techcrunch with a sim. game and so I lost my interest and the project as sat idle since.

appsigot.com

Speaking of techcrunch, they hosted an event in NYC that included a 24 hack-a-thon. I hadn’t ever actually had the chance to attend a 24hr hack-a-thon before and so I decied to give it a go…and being that I was getting into mobile (via the WheresFlu app) I decided I would build an app discovery service as my project.

I managed to get a *mostly* working thing up within the 24 hours and even got a little love for it as a runner up at the event…but haven’t touched it since (and I also learned of a few other projects that basically do the same thing as a 'real’ business since the event, so it’s unlikely I’ll go back to this project any time soon – that is unless the others don’t do a good job of solving the app discovery problem).

fluidbrowser.com

One of the more interesting things I did related to the appsigot project was to make the data store behind the app FluidDB (which is a new/cool take on data storage and access).

While working with FluidDB, the one thing that I kep struggling with was that there wasn’t a great web-based interface for managing/accessing the data (at least not with the basic things I wanted/expected)…so I attempted to build one.

Since putting this out there, FluidDB has gone through some seriously great upgrades and so I’ve got to find some time to circle back around to this project and get it back into synch as well.

fuzzypop.com

I was very hot on this project for awhile…basically the idea was to have a simple way to 'watch’ things you were interested in. As your friends also started to 'watch’ the things you are interested in, we would alert you…and once you the 'watches’ hit a tipping point, we would alert the whole group.

The main play here was to make heavy use of a Google Chrome extension and a custom web service…all of which is working and available…but it’s the classic chicken/egg problem in that the service is really only useful once critical mass is using it…and so it sits (btw, I also did a chrome extension for friendstat.us but it wasn’t a large enough project to make this summary list).

instapaperfeed.com

One of the interesting things bit.ly does is host a hack-a-thon once a month. Instapaperfeed.com is really just one of the projects I threw together during one of those events.

Basically it mashes up your twitter stream with bit.ly click counts…and pushes the top things automatically to your instapaper account once a day.

You can also push your delicious tags to instapaper once a day if you like.

likefeature.com

A few months ago facebook made a big splash with their like buttons…and as a response a new group was formed to offer up openlike.org. I jumped into the action of that group, but being that I had no actual say in what go in or out, I needed a way to explain my view on things.

What I did was build likefeature.com as a proof-of-concept for what I felt openlike.org should do.

For the most part, it did a good job of explaining my opinion…and I got a few people on my side, but overall the project, and openlike.org for that matter, hasn’t gone anywhere (and to be fair, facebook has continued to improve their like features and are getting closer to what I would want it to be).

uridata.com

A lot of the wow.ly projects and especially the knowabout.it project have a large focus on links and the meta data related to links. URIData is a simple web service that provides some of that meta data on links.

As far as I know, knowabout.it is the only service really taking advantage of the uridata service right now…but technically it’s an open and available service for everyone.

whotoget.com

From time to time I get requests from people to hack out little projects…depending on what else I have going on and who’s making the request, I’ll try to take some time to dump something out. WhoToGet.com is one such project.

Basically, it lets you upload a CSV file of names/contacts or whatever you want to filter. Then it gives you a simple web based interface to go through the file record by record and push the ones you want into a new list/file. The initial use case being a simple tool for a group of people to sort through a contacts list to vote on who gets invited to a given event or not.

I gave the source code for the project to my friend that requested it, but I also put a version of it up on this domain…nobody uses it, but it’s there none the less! ;-)


So anyway that’s the 'quick’ update. What do you think, should I take on a few more things?

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This is the personal blog of Kevin Marshall (a.k.a Falicon) where he often digs into side projects he's working on for digdownlabs.com and other random thoughts he's got on his mind.

Kevin has a day job as CTO of Veritonic and is spending nights & weekends hacking on Share Game Tape. You can also check out some of his open source code on GitHub or connect with him on Twitter @falicon or via email at kevin at falicon.com.

If you have comments, thoughts, or want to respond to something you see here I would encourage you to respond via a post on your own blog (and then let me know about the link via one of the routes mentioned above).