Posts Tagged faceboat

How I Love/Hate Web Development

So I often enjoy exercising my programming and design skills in doing little web projects, especially ones that I can share with other folk. I made Breeze (a Magic draft simulator), a very prototypey version of Evil Geniuses (a board game my friend Nate and I designed for Todd and Tory), and various login/forum-style systems. What I have found is that I both love and hate doing this, and today I kind of analyzed why, in the course of putting finishing touches on Faceboat.

I divide web programming into three phases in my mind – initial design, substructure programming, feature programming. The first phase is really fun: imagining a sweet website in my head never really goes wrong, and it’s easy! The third phase is also fun: the beauty of the web is it’s super rapid to see your changes, and as I add features, I can see and interact with them immediately in a wonderful way. But the second phase – BLECH. I hate hate hate programming a database and the object model that lies on top of it, and in the end, that makes me kind of a lazy/bad programmer.

However, today, I did the first phase of Faceboat design and then remembered I had already completed the second phase, two years ago, and the code/data is all still sitting on my web server. Huzzah! So I got to do just the fun parts, and it was awesome. All web development should be like this!

(Honestly, maybe there’s some universal “here’s all of the substructure you need and it automatically works” system I have just never found, but in my experience, the tweakiness involved in doing phase 2 work is so aggravating!)

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Faceboat, Redux

A few years ago, before I went on the Magic Cruise, I envisioned a digital bulletin board we could use on the boat (without actual internet access!) that would allow us to plan and meet up when it’s been historically kind of awkward to roam the ship for people. I dubbed this tool Faceboat. I made a pretty reasonable v1 of it, but when I tried to get it to work on the boat, I failed. (I hadn’t really tested the network connectivity stuff. Oops!)

Now as the fifth Magic Cruise approaches (getting super excited!) I’d like to reexamine the goals of Faceboat and see if there’s a way to make something simpler that satisfies my goals for it.

Goals:

  • Something digital
  • Each person can use it to communicate with any other person on the boat
  • Must work without cell service or internet (local wireless is fine)

I’m thinking that the SWEET version would be a self-contained app that you leave running and that pops a notification if you get within range of the hub and someone left a message for you.

The LESS SWEET BUT STILL PRETTY COOL version is a simple webpage with a comment form that you can filter by poster, in order to find messages left for you.

I wonder if I have time between now and next weekend to make a sweet iPhone/Android app…

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Faceboat

Sometimes I get an idea in my head, and it screams to be free and in the world.  This isn’t as easy as it might appear, as some ideas are not satisfied with being spoken – they must be made real in the form my imagination fits to them.  In this case, I had an inkling of an idea when I found out my new HTC Evo phone (which is awesome, btw) could be a wireless access point.  What if I could host an application on my phone, where there was no Internet?  “No Internet?” you scoff. “Where exactly is that going to apply?”

On the Magic Cruise, that’s where.

I have been developing a local-area-network version of Facebook (*much* reduced in capability) for use on this cruise a bunch of nerd-friends of mine are taking next week.  I call it Faceboat.  Faceboat will do a few things for us that may or may not be useful:

  • We can check-in from various parts of the boat, in case anyone was wondering where to find us
  • We can set up rendezvous plans without needing to be in exactly the same place at the time of the plan
  • We can put our room # up, available to friends, for reference

I’ll be honest – it was fun to release the creative desires that led to the imagined reality of Faceboat, but we may find it is completely unnecessary once we embark on the cruise.  Still, totally fun to do!

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