My new “h” key Friday, Feb 26 2010 

Cubicool Wednesday, Feb 24 2010 

…thanks Preston!

Lunch at The Jet Room Tuesday, Feb 23 2010 

Wow Final Cut, that’s a lot of CPU you’re using there… Saturday, Feb 20 2010 

I guess the coach was right about giving 110%…

Wrapping things up Saturday, Feb 20 2010 

Flash of Genius Friday, Feb 19 2010 

I just finished watching the movie “Flash of Genius” and it’s easy to come away from the story of Dr. Robert Kearns’s struggle against the Ford Motor Company with a heightened sense of fear, cynicism and anger with the ability for a corporation to get away with stealing from the individual inventor.

(spoilers ahead)

While Dr. Kearns’s effort and eventual victory is commendable it must be understood that for the 12 years that he fought the Goliath he was not inventing.  This would be one thing if the intermittent wiper was his first and only idea but if the story is to be believed it was just one in a long string of inventions which emerged from Dr. Kearns’s imagination since he was a child.  Given this, it is hard to imagine that it would be his last invention and while his intellect was certainly challenged by engaging the Ford Motor Company, we’re left to imagine what he may have created if not otherwise occupied.

While certainly within our means, I believe that those of us who are creatively inclined would better serve the world to cease fearing what can be taken from us and instead focus on developing that which cannot, namely our ability to invent.  Leonardo Di Vinci is not known to most of us for his ability to litigate (although I would not be surprised if he were proficient) but for the volumes of notebooks, sketches and artifacts that were ahead of their time and inspire us even today.

The sting of having the fruits of your labor taken from you for the benefit of others is painful, but the pain can be reduced if we focus on the process instead of the outcome, of invention.

Good shoot tonight, boys Saturday, Feb 13 2010 

Winterfest at Harnischfeger Park Saturday, Feb 13 2010 

Harnischfeger Park in Ixonia, WI.

Another iPhone Marketing Experiment Wednesday, Feb 10 2010 

We’re trying something new over at Gullickson Laboratories.

Our latest app, Director’s Viewfinder, has been submitted to Apple for approval.  This is always a frustrating time for iPhone developers because you never know just how long it will be before the app is approved (or rejected), so it’s hard to coordinate getting the word out to your audience.

On one hand, you want to build buzz early because the app store rankings are based on volume, and due to changes in the way updates are handled in the store, the best chance an app has at securing a good rank is when it first appears in the store.

On the other hand, you don’t want to invest a lot in building awareness if you can’t tell your customers when and where to buy.  How do you keep their attention for the indeterminate time between now and when the app is available in the App Store?

Here’s what I came up with for Director’s Viewfinder:

I’m going to give away 50 copies of the app for free.  All you have to do is:

  1.  Follow jasongullickson (me) on Twitter
  2.  Watch for tweets about Director’s Viewfinder (#directorsviewfinderapp)

As soon as I hear from Apple that the app is available, I’ll tweet 50 promo codes; each one good for a free copy of the app.

So the idea is that by announcing the app as soon as it’s submitted (any earlier and you risk getting “sniped”) I have time to “build up” customers and increase the chances of having a big first day.  While I don’t think “promo” copies count toward rankings, the design here is that there will be more customers than codes, resulting in sales.

 

I don’t know that this approach would work for every app (or even this one, yet) but I believe that there is an audience for Director’s Viewfinder and the “problem” is simply reaching this audience.  The lead time of this approach allows me to gradually get the word out to these customers, but having their attention allows me to “burst-rate” sales to obtain an advantageous position in the App Store rankings, therefore leading to additional sales.  Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

I’ll update this post in a few weeks, after the app has been available for a few days and post some results. 

What makes the iPad bigger deal than the iPod? The A4 Thursday, Feb 4 2010 

 Of all the things announced during the iPad“reveal”, I was most intrigued by the device’s processor, the “Apple A4“.

More surprising to me was how this announcement was but a single bullet-point in the presentation, and hasn’t drawn much discussion on the web following the announcement.

I spent some time gathering what little information there is out there on the chip and have collected my findings here.

This is probably the best single resource available on the web at the moment.  It describes what is (publicly) known about the A4 as well as discussing the chip’s “origin story” and enough background about Apple’s processor choices to understand where things may head from here.

This is an article from 2008 discussing Apple’s acquisition of PA Semi, the engineering behind the A4.

A few things come to mind reading through these articles.  The first is that Apple has switched CPU’s (more interestingly, CPU instruction sets) several times and each time the change happens rather quickly and without much (if any) end-user impact.  These changes have been driven by a pragmatic need to improve some aspect of performance (processing power, efficiency, etc.).  Contrast this with Microsoft and the x86 architecture where an instruction-set-level change is so taboo that it hasn’t been done even when the cost of maintaining this “compatibility” has been crippling.

Secondly Apple didn’t leave the POWER architecture for performance or other reasons, but for the fact that future (expected) chips in the series could not achieve the thermal efficiency Apple needed for mobile devices (laptops in particular).  In other words, the decision to switch to Intel chips was driven by Watts not FLOPS.  As early as 2007 PA Semi delivered a PowerPC G5 chip (IBM’s POWER4 architecture) capable of 2.0Ghz speeds and consuming only 13 watts (25 peak) and with two cores to boot (I’d like to compare this to the POWER4 chip used in desktop Macs at the time but I can’t find definitive information on this at the moment).

To me the moral of the story here is that Apple’s move to use their own silicon in the iPad is a natural progression of their interest in controlling everything about their computers, and of their lack of fear in venturing into the realm of processor design.  Some have shot down the idea of Apple using these chips outside of their mobile device realm based on the complexity of moving Mac OS to a new chip but history shows Apple has no reservation in making a move like this, when it makes sense to do so.

There may be other sound reasons that Apple will continue using Intel chips in the Mac line and keep the A* chips use limited to mobile devices but their history and behavioral patterns indicate otherwise.

Next Page »