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.

A different type of bitolithic project

We moved house/office a couple of weeks ago and in the process have opted-in to a new challenge. For the last three years bitolithic has been based in our home in Melbourne, Australia.

When we bought the old house I was working for an IT consultancy and so the home office home office that came with the house was a 'nice to have'.

Then I started working on bitolithic full-time and the home office started to show its limitations. It was next to the living room, so I shared in whatever the kids were doing or watching, and it had windows to both courtyards, so they couldn't be used without impacting on the flow of features to YOU.

We started the search for a new house about a year ago but unfortunately what we wanted is in short supply in our area and the few things that came up were out of our reach. We ended up buying a beautiful house that we are very happy with but the downside is that the 'office' hasn't yet reached its full potential.

In other words, it's just a shed.

A nice, big, well-constructed shed with lots of potential, but just a shed for now.

Work to convert it into a proper place of work will start early in January.

In the meantime it doesn't look as though I'll be able to do a lot of coding, support and email responses may be a little slow. It gets hot in here!

Here are some photos for all of you in nice, cool offices to laugh at:

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The insect spray in the next image is an important part of my toolset right now.

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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):

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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:

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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.