I’m absolutely terrible at keeping in touch with people. I’ll go weeks without calling my parents, and sometimes months will pass before I’ll respond to an email from a distant friend. (I’m also a horrible texter, but I’m blaming Google Voice for a lot of that.) I beat myself up about it a few months back and decided I really had to do better.
The first step is acknowledging you have a problem. The second step, in this case, was to build an Android app to help me. Yes, it’s a little embarrassing to admit that I need an app to remind me to talk to people. “Hey everyone, my phone has to coach me on my people skills!” Incredibly humbling, but it works. The occasional nudge to take a moment to say hello to my friend or call my mom has been extremely helpful in keeping the conversations flowing. And if you’re dealing with the same problem I am, maybe it can help you too.
So here it is. It’s called keep in touch, or kit for short. It will keep track of any phone calls or text messages between you and your friends, and notify you when you haven’t been keeping up with them as much. You can contact your friends directly from the notification or within the app. There are also some pretty stats to look at.
I’ve been working on kit off and on for far too long now, and while there’s still a lot more I’d like to do with it, it’s reached the point where I need to slap a “DONE” sticker on it for my own peace of mind. (Finished is better than perfect, they say.) So please, try it out, and feel free to share any feedback/requests you have.
Yesterday, I published another Android app, WordKick.
The goal of the game is to change one four-letter word into another four-letter word by changing only one letter at the time. It’s easy to play, but some words can prove challenging!
I started playing this game by myself when I was in grade school, writing four-letter words in the margins of my notebooks while I was bored in class. Even in college it’s helped me endure the most miserable classes. I had the idea to make it into a mobile game while I was falling asleep at a conference last year.
It’s free to play, so check it out!
Before you marry a person you should first make them use a computer with slow Internet to see who they really are.
There are also the smarmy “Let me Google that for you” types who, when asked a simple question that you figure falls within their expertise, tell you to go look it up yourself, as if engaging in conversation about something potentially interesting is exhausting and unnecessary.
Excuse us for asking, right?
I made a VineBox last weekend.
Vine is a fairly new offering from Twitter that enables users to share six-second videos to the world through tweets. Like Twitter, these short videos are, for the most part, pointless and trite, but it’s kind of cool to see (and not just read about) what the world is up to in real time. I don’t have an iPhone, so I can’t create anything using Vine myself (although there seems to be an Android version in the works), but I do get a kick out of seeing how people are creatively using the service. It’s kind of like watching television in some ways: a lot of it is just noise, but occasionally you’ll hit something interesting.
That TV comparison is what inspired me to make the VineBox. I wanted to play around with the differences between traditional media consumption and the digital consumption of today, and I wanted to think about what “Reality TV” really means. I found an old analog television and hooked up a Raspberry Pi to it, and wrote some python code to download and play videos from Vine in real time. What you get is essentially true Reality TV: I’m seeing what’s happening to real people in the real world just as it happens. And it’s surprisingly addictive.
If you’re interested in doing this yourself, I’ve put the code up on github.
If you don’t feel like building something like this, but still want to see Vine videos in real time, online services like Vinepeek can help.