How did the shed turn out?

How? Very nicely thank you! If you don't remember what it used to look like, this is how:

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Horrible huh?

A little after that photo was taken the 'men' started showing up to start work. The people (JPP) that helped us buy the house also handled the project management of the shed renovation so it was good to not have to worry about it. They fit it all into our original house budget so we were very happy.

First the workmen ('tradies' in oztralian) cut two big holes on the sides to fit in large sliding doors.

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The doors will let in lots of natural light, but they also serve a very practical purpose. During the warmer months they'll work with the windows to establish an airflow. I've been using them almost every day to delay the time when the air conditioner has to be turned on.

Then the insulation went up, harder than it looks because the framing to hold the insulation in had to be put up, it also holds up the plaster so it's worthwhile spending some time on it.

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Plaster day was a big day! the space began to change into a proper office:

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When we worked out the budget there was one item without a figure attached to it, the electrical system. It was the only wildcard the PM allowed and, as they predicted, it was a little bit of a nightmare.

The shed had been connected to the grid by a wire spliced into the powerpoint in the house (behind the wall, we didn't know). To do the job properly required running a conduit from the house fuse box all the way around, then into the ground, and across the backyard. Naturally the fuse box was as far as it could possibly get from the shed AND the ground was clay, hard clay.

So hard that the blokes digging the trench couldn't break through it with their tools and they had to run off and quickly rent this:

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Here you can see what the clay looked like:

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Once the electrical connection was done it all became easier. We ended up using one of the contingency days on the doors but when they finally arrived it was worth it:

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Then it was a matter of watching people put in the flooring:

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Then watching people paint:

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Then, finally, just enjoying the look of the thing:

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All that looks a little sterile, so here is one of the space actually being enjoyed. Ethan playing with an old flight simulator.

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So there you go! all done.

I've been hard at work on an update to ThinkBook, if you've been following on Twitter you'll know that it's with the beta testers now. Just bug fixes.

Finally I want to say 'thank you' to everyone at JPP. They got us the almost perfect house then made it perfect. If you're thinking of buying property anywhere in Australia PLEASE get yourself a buyers advocate. They'll make their fee back for you just in their negotiating end-game, they save you money.

We didn't think they would be interested in working in our price range but they work at any point in the market. Buyers advocates are the ONLY people working for you when you buy a house. Real estate agents must, by law, do whatever is in the seller's best interest.

If you're looking in Melbourne we, obviously, recommend our guys: JPP Buyers Advocates, otherwise have a look in your local area. I'm not sure what the situation is internationally. In Australia, and specially in Melbourne houses are horrifically expensive so having an expert help makes sense.

Anyway, enough of telling you all what to do, more news on ThinkBook and Comic Zeal soon.

What a difference two inches make

In the iTunes App Store, a couple of inches can make a huge difference.A few days ago, one of our very observant UK based beta testers sent me a tweet indicating thatThinkBook was fifth in the paid iPad apps listing (thanks KB).

ThinkBook has been hovering around the top ten PRODUCTIVITY apps for a while, but to be fifth OVERALL was wonderful. To put it into perspective, in downloads, ThinkBook was beating both Pages and Keynote.

I quickly had a look at the UK store, KB was right, there it was (it had dropped one spot since KB sent the tweet):

uk top 10

This was certainly great, what had caused it? A wonderful app? yes of course, but it was just as wonderful the day before when it was nowhere to be seen in the top 10.

If you've been paying attention to the app store you know the answer already, Apple was featuring ThinkBook in the front page. Right next to the top ten list was this:

Uk featured list

There's ThinkBook, second from the left at the top. Wonderful! Thank you Apple.

Logging in to the US app store the story was a little different, ThinkBook HAD jumped up a few spots, from around 18th to 11th in the Productivity category. Nowhere to be seen in the Top 10.

Fair enough! to be featured in just one store is a great honour, we were very happy. Still though, why the increase in sales in the US store?

Turns out ThinkBook was being featured in the US store, in exactly the same way as in the UK store, front page, 'New and Noteworthy', just a couple of inches to the right:

Us featured list

Enough that many users would have to scroll right to see it.

So that's the difference a couple of inches can make in the iTunes App Store.

Thank you!

It's now almost two weeks since ThinkBook launched and it's well past time to thank all those who helped.First of all I need to thank Thom, who took on ThinkBook graphics design and came up with something so wonderful that I still can't believe I wrote the code behind it. If you have any doubts as to the importance of someone like Thom to an aesthetic tragic like me, let me show you what ThinkBook looked like last December.

Next, the beta testers. Some of them started when ThinkBook looked like the video above and have tested version after version after version. They provided fantastic feedback and really helped shape ThinkBook. All while keeping up with the releases and constantly re-testing. Thank you gals and guys!

Last but not in any way least, I have to thank all of you who helped with the launch of ThinkBook. If you've re-tweeted an announcement, told a friend about TB, showed someone the demo video or even better, demoed the app running on your iPad we just can't thank you enough.

Announcing ... (for a little longer)

Dearest readers, it sure has been a dry spell hasn't it? Sorry for the lack of news. We were working on something super secret. In the end I'm not sure we needed the secrecy, but you start doing things a particular way and if you're stubborn you tend to continue doing things that way till something happens.

In this case what happened was that we finished.

Anyway, so towards the end of last year we got to a point in Comic Zeal development where the next update would have to be a huge one.

You see, the issue is that ordering comics (or other things) can be a bit of a chore. Putting the view into a special mode is a pain, then dragging items up/down is ok, but it breaks down really quickly when the destination is a few screens away, or if you have to move a lot of items. Of course, it doesn't work at all if you want to move things to an entirely different place, like to a different series entirely.

We needed to have a much more flexible system to re-order, move and organize comics. We wanted it to be fun too, take the chore out of it.

We were working on that problem, and coming up with some nice things too, when we realised that we had the basis for a different kind of app on our hands. Something that we've needed for a while but never found one that we liked. We decided to have a play with it and the little experiment went really well. We made an app out of it.

It's ready now, we'll be releasing it in a couple of days.

Today I'd like to tell you about it, but I'd like to make a game out of it.

It's been a few long months of working on this and I've been looking forward to today since the day the first prototype gave us a glimpse of what it could do. So I want to have some fun with it and hope you will join me.

Starting at 11:00 CST today (so around two hours from now if I've calculated it right) I'll be answering questions about the new app on Twitter. We'll start off limiting answers to YES/NO if that's ok with you all and see where it gets us. Your aim will be to find out the function of the app, and, for extra non-existent bonus points, the name.

It should be fun, I hope you'll join me (most of the rest of bitolithic will be asleep! it will be 0300 over here).

The twitter account is @bitolithic.

At the end I'll post a link to a very nice video demonstrating the app.