Icons and software and phones, oh my!

I’ve fallen down on my commitment (to myself) to post about once a week.  But better to have a busy and productive three weeks and not quite get them narrated than to write a lot and get little done.

Just before the middle of June, I contacted a local graphic designer, Michelle Miller of Sheridan Design to get the ball rolling on some icons for the phone apps and web sites.  However, Michelle isn’t really a “get the ball rolling” sort of person; she’s much more of the “git’er done” type.  With a flurry of emails back and forth and in less than five days start to finish,  I suddenly had a whole suite of logos  for the ChecklistRN website, the PasswordRN phone apps, and the CalculatorRN webapp that Hokan is developing.  I’m delighted with the results and the work fit inside the budget numbers I initially laid out for Michelle.  I’d like to think that the fact that I had a very clear idea of what I needed and am a decisive and appreciative customer had something to do with the speed of the project.  But, frankly, as far as I can tell, Michelle is just plain good at what she does.  You can see one example of her work in action at the top of the ChecklistRN blog.

About a week ago, Sara delivered her first batch of Android enhancements, fleshing out the security features for the master password and the system passwords.  I haven’t had much chance to test them yet.  But, this afternoon, our Android Developer Phone walked in the door — so I think I’ll combine testing her new features with seeing my own code run on a real phone for the first time.  That experience will be both cool and humbling (UI not being my forte).

(For anyone paying attention to the details, I did get Mercurial and BitBucket working after my last post although I temporarily abandoned the Eclipse plugin and went to TortoiseHG which worked out of the box and very intuitively.  So the Android sources ARE checked in to a central repository although I’ve just been getting zip files from Sara, merging her code with my own locally,  and checking in from here.  We aren’t quite up to speed on the D word in Distributed Version Control yet :-}.  But the BitBucket wiki that comes with my account has already proved handy for documenting some process things for Sara, so I’m quite pleased with that. )

The word from Laramie on the iPhone version of PasswordRN is also all positive; I’m supposed to see an initial version running on an iPod near me within the week.  It will be an incredible experience to sit at a table with the Android phone on one side and the iPod on the other and walk the same app through its paces on both.

Speaking of which, Mark agreed to a) help with some competitive analysis and b) get up to sped to do QA for our own apps.  He’s been running one of the popular iThingy password managers, which shall remain nameless for the moment,  and HE HATES IT.  Not the app, itself, so much, although he has found some quirky things about it.  But the whole iPod app-running experience.  The screen is small.  The touch screen is, in his words, “just not made for a hand with calluses on it.”  It’s not as if he has huge hands but he finds typing on the virtual keyboard is a painstaking, error prone experience.  We’ve bought him a stylus and we’ll see if that helps.  Plus, more instructive for me, there are some definite usability features that seem obvious to him — features for the over-forty crowd but also frankly for anyone in poor light or under stressful conditions.  I fear that simplicity and BIG FONTS may not be very Apple-UI-guidelines-compliant but I think they could be very much appreciated by folks trying to use a phone to help them get real work done.