Major MindSwarms feature, and new portfolio item

I’m glad to finally be able to share with people a feature that I’m especially proud of at MindSwarms: the “Response Matrix”. To quote myself:

Although I redesigned the whole application, I’m focusing on the recording matrix, a grid of all the response videos for a study. It’s a focal point of the MindSwarms experience, because it’s the most unique, and because it’s the primary deliverable for our paying clients. I believed the matrix was overwhelming, and I’d heard feedback from researchers that it was hard to use.

I made major design changes as part of the overall redesign, but I kept iterating on it afterwards, to make it even easier to use. You can see the final, much improved design in my newest portfolio piece!

iPhoneDevCamp!

Two weeks ago I attended iPhoneDevCamp in SF. I don’t have an iPhone and I didn’t have any ideas for what to work on for the hackathon; I went figuring I’d meet people, make a team [with an iPhone], and go from there.

Rode CalTrain up to SF, walked to the building, got my swag bag, and then walked around a bit. Met a guy from eyeFi with some cool ideas around his product, and then ran into Nicole Lazzaro (XEODesign) who had a couple different game ideas. She introduced me to some others, and we proceeded to brainstorm game ideas. By the end of the night we were a team.

So we built a prototype, turned that into a rough version of the game, play tested it, changed the game a bit, play tested it more, cleaned up … and presented!

The game is called TattleTalz (only works on Safari & iPhone). It’s basically an online version of the party game “Two Truths and a Lie”: there are three statements, two of which are true; you guess which one isn’t. It integrates with Facebook, which it uses to find questions your friends have submitted. The purpose of the game is to let you strengthen your friend network (since many “friends” on Facebook are people you don’t actually know well) by learning things about those “friends”.

People liked the idea a lot, and we’re going to leave the game running for a while. I actually just put up version 2 of the game, which has Facebook integration working, as well as question submission. Go play!

In fact, it was so well liked that our game won the Best Game category! The prize was a 17″ MacBook Pro with 4GB of RAM and a service contract. Obviously you can’t split a computer three ways, so I talked to the rest of the team and bought them out of their shares. Mwahaha, it’s all mine!

Thus: I’m going Mac! Although I still have a windows box, and I got a free copy of VMWare Fusion, which will be good for running WinXP (games, utilities, Win-only apps, etc). It’s going to be interesting, but I’ve been trying it out on a work machine all summer, so I’m starting to get used to it. (No, I’m not gonna be a die-hard Mac fan boy. For one thing, there are far fewer of my beloved keyboard shortcuts!)

A few words about Amazon EC2

I’m still pretty impressed with EC2. A few friends are thinking about using it, so here’s a quick gathering of useful links:

  1. Get the EC2 Management Firefox extension
  2. Howto doc for the extension
  3. If you haven’t already setup your Amazon EC2 account and gotten the necessary keys, you may need to follow this tutorial. Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend grabbing the command line tools and all that; the Firefox extension is easier.
  4. You may also need/want the S3 File Interface extension: it gives you FTP-esque access to S3!