This week

This week has been interesting. It looks like the part-time contract I was doing is winding to a close as the company has found a full-timer. Initially this worried me, as it makes the budget a whole lot tighter. However, I’ve learned that there are two perspectives to this, and that I can choose the positive perspective: that this releases me to spend more time on my apps and projects. So i’m looking forwards, feeling like this is only going to spur me towards putting more effort into my work as i’m now walking the tightrope without a safety net of part-time work. Very exciting.

Now the reality is that I need to start budgeting, as i’m purely going to be living off savings now. This is a bit complicated because we’re building a house - so i have to figure out at which point the payments for building start going onto the loan and stop coming out of savings. And i’m hoping that this point leaves me with several month’s ‘runway’ left in the kitty, so to speak. The bank has given me their numbers so far, next up i need to chase the builders to find out how much is remaining to be paid. Soon i’ll know. I’m hoping that it’ll work out to 6 months runway. But we’ll see. Either way i’m choosing the good perspective: lots of savings = awesome; not much savings = one of my earlier apps will have to pay off, if this is meant to be, so i won’t have to wait as long for success.

I tried to sell my motorbike again - and the auction didn’t reach reserve again. It’s pretty tough selling a bike in the middle of a rainy winter. But here’s the good perspective: I’ve got a freaking motorbike and it rocks :) In all seriousness though, I’ve put it back on ebay at a much lower reserve. It’ll be gone next week i’m pretty confident.

I settled on the photographers niche this week, and set about trying to make some contacts. Inspired by a blog post, i decided to start a blog featuring photographers in the local area, and got to calling all the nearby photographers according to google maps. Well - as it turns out, photographers aren’t interested in being featured or promotion on a website. Which I thought was odd. I only managed to speak to one, who explained it: apparently there’s so much competition for photographical work that they’re dead against networking and sharing their tricks of the trade. It truly seems to me, at least in the local area, to be an industry ruled by the scarcity mindset versus the generosity mindset. Pity. But the good perspective, again, is that now I know that photography isn’t a good industry to pursue, which is great news because now i can move on to one of my other ideas.

What else? I met with a friend’s father who is a local entrepreneur, and was really encouraged by how generous he was with his time and advice. A lot of what he said resonated with how i’ve been thinking, eg think like a business owner not like a developer, sales is everything, solve people’s problems, etc. Initially i was a bit unhappy about meeting him because i didn’t learn much new. But the positive perspective, which i’m really happy about now, is that i must really be on the right track given that everything he said was along the lines of what i’ve already been thinking.

It’s been a week of ups and downs. And, if i was a pessimist (and occasionally can lapse into being), i could say it’s been a downer. But i can honestly say that i’m excited, because it’s also been a great week: I’ve begun working with a lady on marketing copy for my apps, i’ve finalised the designs with my designer for another of my upcoming apps, and got started on my server monitoring system. Oh, and a couple recruiters were chasing me about a position at Google. So - it’s been a great week.

Each week i love to feature an app (web app, mobile app, random project, whatever!) that someone on the mailing list has been working on. Please email me with your app if you want to be next! (of course it’s free, too.) This week, Sean Craig is going to tell us about Eight Spots, which looks like a great way to find a place to take my wife for dinner when we start going on dates again after the upcoming birth:

Eight Spots is a side project that I’ve started working on over the last six months – while I have a conventional, full time job that I love, I’ve always been interested in experimenting with side projects… certainly to learn something, but also with a view that one of them might actually turn into something useful for me and my friends, or perhaps something even more exciting.

The basic Eight Spots concept is that it provides travellers with personalised restaurant, bar and cafe recommendations based on their own tastes. Users start by completing a very short yes/no taste survey and then nominating their ‘go to spots’ in one of more cities that they are familiar with. These are the places that you’d recommend to a friend with similar tastes if they were going somewhere for the first time e.g. “If you’re going to Paris and you’re looking for lunch, you should go to Al Taglio pizza bar near Parmentier – you’ll love it”. Based on this information, Eight Spots uses the recommendations of people with similar taste (judged by shared go to spots, your taste profile and demographics) to recommend a small itinerary of five spots for you in a chosen destination: one place each in the categories of breakfast, coffee/tea, lunch, dinner and drinks. If your friends are on Eight Spots (it is integrated with Facebook), you can also ‘follow’ them and the algorithm gives preference to their recommendations.

It’s a pretty simple idea, and one that I came up with while walking around Paris last year with a couple of friends when we agreed how difficult it was to find places in new cities that suited our tastes. We would either spend a huge amount of time poring over 100s of random TripAdvisor reviews, or have a hit and miss experience of experimenting with new places (which – granted – can sometimes be part of the fun). The purpose of Eight Spots is therefore to offer a curated alternative to mass review sites like TripAdvisor (Eight Spots provides five recommendations, not 100s or 1000s), and to give your more hits than misses (by personalising based on your tastes).

I’ve learned a lot through the process so far and, while I’ve got heaps of great ideas of how to keep improving the site, I’m pretty proud of what I’ve managed to pull together on weekends and weeknights with no programming training (I’m 100% self taught).

What I struggle with though is getting honest feedback on the site, and understanding what needs to be improved from a user’s perspective.

To that end, I would love to hear from anyone on Chris’s list who has the time to share their thoughts. The site is in invite-only beta at the moment, but I’ve set up a registration section for anyone on Chris’s list that is interested… check out

For anyone who does have feedback, please e-mail me on [email protected]

Thanks for reading! And if you want to get in touch, I'd love to hear from you: chris.hulbert at gmail.

Chris Hulbert

(Comp Sci, Hons - UTS)

iOS Developer (Freelancer / Contractor) in Australia.

I have worked at places such as Google, Cochlear, Assembly Payments, News Corp, Fox Sports, NineMSN, FetchTV, Coles, Woolworths, Trust Bank, and Westpac, among others. If you're looking for help developing an iOS app, drop me a line!

Get in touch:
[email protected]

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