Well, it’s been a couple months since my last blog posting, so I probably should give an update of what I’ve been doing as of late.
I’ve spent some time over the past couple months studying up on iOS and Android app development. Both are areas that I’m quite interested in and would enjoy working with in the future. Of course, I have a lot to learn about both so I’m sure much more time will be spent studying them during the rest of 2012 (and beyond).
I’ve never been one to sit around and relax, so I’ve kept myself very busy with freelance work. I’m currently writing full-time for a great new mobile phone blog, mobileusers.com. I love the work. I’m also still writing computer tutorials for another client, which keeps my help desk/technical support skills sharp as those positions are all about troubleshooting and explaining things in terms that everyone can understand. I’m also doing some PC repair/technician work, too. And I’ve also branched out into Web Development and social media management work, which is something that I’ve done in the past and still like doing.
In short, between all of my clients (and launching my own things on the side), I’m putting in the equivalent of a 40-45 hour work week.
The Job Hunt
I like to say that I’m always looking for the next opportunity. Ideally, I want to work full-time for a company and be able to make a difference for the company and their clients/customers. While I enjoy the freelance work I’m doing currently, I would enjoy the right full-time job even more, and I feel like I have a lot to offer a company or business.
As such, I’ve continued to apply to jobs that seem to be a good fit. I’m hopeful that I will find the right full-time job by the spring of 2012. And I’m excited to see where I end up. 🙂
Some Advice for Recent Grads
I know of several friends who graduated in December and several more who are graduating in May of this year. As a recent grad myself, I have a little bit of advice for those who have recently graduated or will be graduating.
The advice is simple: stay busy. It’s OK to take a vacation, but unless it’s truly your desire for the vacation to be permanent, put yourself back out there after a reasonable period of time. If you can’t find a full-time job (and I know that’s a big struggle right now), make your own work. Start a blog, a website, a business, freelance online, freelance for a local business, volunteer, just do something!
Even if the blog or website or business doesn’t turn out, it’s still something you can tell perspective employers about whenever you do get interviewed. It’s also something that can go on your resume and will make you stand out.
Not only will it help your career, it will also help you get through the weeks and months until you find the right position. I know, personally, that I’m always happier when I’m busy than when I’m totally bored.
A Favorite Saying of Mine
“Find your passion and pursue it no matter what anyone tells you.”
Last week I posted on here that I was venturing into iOS app development and planned on purchasing a Macbook Pro shortly. While I haven’t purchased the computer yet, I have started to plan out my first app. I’m very excited about the potential of this app as it meets a need that millions of iOS users have.
Developing an iOS app is not an easy task. The app that I am planning is not basic and therefore will probably take months to fully develop–especially since I will be doing the development during my free time after work. I wanted to take a little time to explain the app development process so far for me as I think it might help those who are looking into getting into iOS or even Android app development.
Breaking the process down into steps:
- Come up with an idea for an app. In my case, the idea for the app has been floating around my head for months now. I thought of an app that I would use and that people would like to use on a daily basis.
- Check to see if the idea has already been done. I discovered that the app hasn’t been done yet. If I had discovered a similar app, I would have either come up with a new idea or tried to see what I could improve upon with my app. The last thing you want to do as a developer is rip off someone else’s ideas. If you think you can build a better app than what is already out there, find a creative way to do it that doesn’t rip off another app.
- Come up with a name for the app. You could do this later on in the development process, but I found that it was nice to have one right from the start. I came up with a few different name ideas and then picked what I thought was the best one.
- Buy a domain name and create Facebook pages for the app. This is optional, but in my case, the app that I am planning will have a website tie-in so the domain name is crucial. The site itself hasn’t been built yet, but the domain name is already registered and ready to be used. Ditto with the Facebook pages.
- Write down the desired features of the app. This took me a little less than an hour to do. Rather than getting too technical, I decided to focus on things from the user’s perspective. What sort of features would I expect to see in such an app? How would the app function? I think too often in development, developers get too caught up in the technical things and forget that the app must be built for the average user. The average user isn’t going to care about what language the program is built in; they’re going to only care about how the program functions.
- Sketch the app. I opened Paint.net and created a quick, rough sketch of what the app should look like. I knew that the app’s design would most likely change a lot, but I wanted something to build off of.
….which of course means I now need to purchase a Mac Intel-based computer. Believe me, it’s a day I never thought would come as I have always preferred the Windows OS to Mac. However, it’s easy to see that apps, such as those built for iOS, are a huge part of technology’s future. And as an IT person, it’s important to be flexible and adjust to new technology as it comes out. I might not be the biggest Mac fan, but even I can see the benefits of really learning the platform and possibly developing apps myself.
For those who aren’t familiar with iOS app development, there are two big requirements for getting into it. The first is owning a Mac Intel-based computer. This could be a cheaper Mac model such as the Mac Mini (retailing for $599 new) or a more expensive one such as the MacBook Pro (at least $999 new).
The second requirement is purchasing the iOS Developer Kit. That’s $99 and will enable you to build and test apps on your iPhone, iPod or iPad.
Once you create an app and decide it is ready to be shared with the public, you can submit it to Apple for approval. Only when they approve the app is it available for download in the App Store.
In my case, I do not have a ton of programming experience beyond classes I took in college as well as projects I’ve undertaken over the years. However, I am armed with some solid resources and a lot of motivation. I have a few app ideas that I hope to implement in the near future in whatever free time I have. Once I start the development process, I will be sure to post regular updates here as to how things are going.
The goal is to purchase a MacBook Pro refurb and a developer’s kit by the end of 2011. The MacBook I get will be replacing my 4+ year old laptop and will be set to run both Mac OSX and Windows 7. And hopefully by mid-2012, I will have my first iOS application in the App Store.
On October 4th, Apple announced the new iPhone 4S, set to be released on October 14th. Many users expected the new iPhone to be known as the iPhone 5 and to come with such common Android features as 4G LTE connectivity and a bigger screen. These users were greatly disappointed in Apple’s announcement that the iPhone 4S would come in the standard screen size of 3.5 inches and would come with 3G connectivity.
However, I was not disappointed in the announcement. In fact, I was glad that Apple decided to play things the way that they did. Being an iPhone user since January 2009 and an Android user since October 2010, I have a feel for both platforms as well as their strengths and weaknesses.
One of the things that I have always admired about Apple is their commitment to not releasing products with serious faults. If there’s one thing you’ll notice about Apple products, it is their ability to not only work, but work well. In the nearly 3 years I have been an iPhone user–first with the iPhone 3G and then with the iPhone 3GS–I have had very few problems with the phone. It has worked and it has worked well.
Contrast that with my Android experience. I have a Droid X, a phone that was considered to be quite good when it came out in 2010. Unfortunately, I have had nothing but problems with the phone. It’s sluggish, it frequently crashes and unlike my iPhone, it sometimes doesn’t work when I need it the most.
Believe me, I wanted to like Android. I hate Mac computers and have no plans to ever own one. I’d rather have a phone that integrates seamlessly with another platform I regularly use, Google. Android was/is supposed to do that. Unfortunately, it is a platform with flaws and one that is not nearly as stable as Apple’s.
Now, back to the announcement. For Apple to introduce 4G and a bigger screen with this device likely would have been a mistake. 4G has not yet reached its peak and is available in less than 200 cities at this point. It is also a major drain on battery life. As for the issue of a bigger screen, one of the great things about the iPhone is that it is so compact, without being too tiny. A bigger screen would have ruined this.
There are 5 main reasons why I think the iPhone 4S is worth buying for both iPhone and Android owners alike. These are:
- The camera. The iPhone 4s camera is a huge upgrade over the iPhone 4’s camera. It is 8MP. As any photographer will tell you, however, megapixels aren’t everything. This explains why so many Android phones with an 8MP camera are found to be quite lacking. However, one thing that Apple has always done right is the iPhone’s photo taking abilities–the software is quite simply flawless. Even with the iPhone 4’s 5MP camera, it still regularly takes far better pictures than the Droid X and many other 8MP phones. I have seen pictures taken with the iPhone 4S camera and it is nothing short of incredible. This could easily replace a standard point and shoot camera.
- The camcorder. Like the camera, this is also improved. Videos can now be shot in 1080p. Ever noticed how videos shot with a cell phone tend to be all over the place? Apple has. The iPhone 4S comes with a built in stabilizer, which makes a huge difference in how good the videos shot with the 4S look. These two features alone make the camcorder a huge improvement over the one found in the iPhone 4.
- The processor. The iPad 2 came with an A5 processor chip, and so does the iPhone 4S. For those reading who aren’t too knowledgeable about processors, essentially, the better the processor, the faster the device. The A5 is considered to be one of the better currently available processor chips, so yet again, this is an improvement over the last model of the iPhone.
- The speed. Apple has reported that the iPhone 4S is two times faster than the iPhone 4. What that means is that the iPhone 4S will be less likely to behave sluggishly when used, and will be able to handle more tasks at once. If you’ve ever noticed your iPhone is behaving sluggishly, you probably won’t have that issue with the 4S.
- Siri. Siri was the one new feature most talked about after the announcement. For those who haven’t heard of it, it is basically built-in voice activation designed to handle a variety of tasks for users. Those who are slow at typing or are looking for a hands free device will no doubt find Siri to be incredibly useful. Even those like me who tend to hate voice activation will find Siri to be useful. As Apple advertised, Siri is like having a personal assistant in your hand whenever you need it. While Siri likely won’t be able to perform all tasks a user may need, it is certainly something that could be a game changer, especially as Apple continues to add new functionality to it.