Thursday, 29 November 2012

42 - Location

"Each story should say the person's location on it." I said ages ago when first discussing the app with Filippo.

"The location of the author or the location of where the story was made?" He replied.

"What do you mean?"

"Because if you go on holiday to Africa but create the story when you get home in London then it'll say London, not Africa."

"Huh. Good point."

Like, you say something you think is really simple, 'hey Filippo, yeah, just stick the location on there yeah? Quick job yeah?' but then it opens up a whole bunch of new questions you didn't think about. Which is weird when this is all you think about.

So, today, Filippo implemented a thing where it takes the location from where the cover photo was taken. Because the cover photo is the one most likely to be most relevant to your story. You know, makes sense.

But what if there is no photo? Huh. No worries. Filippo decided to do a mix. So Story will look at the location of your photo and, if there is no photo, it'll grab your current location and use that.

Paul says he loves using Filippo for this reason, "Like, he is making a hybrid solution to determine the location of a story. Pretty cool." It really is nice knowing this guy has got our back.

Okay, enough bigging up Filippo.

Great guy though.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

41 - Congratulations Filippo

One of the other projects, apart from Story, that Filippo and his team have been working on is this one for Google. It's been getting a load of buzz.

The last time we met Filippo he showed it to us right before it was about to go live. He was really proud. Me and Paul were gobsmacked. I'm not into fancy show-off examples of 'what's possible these days' but this one is amazing. It's a true bond between creative vision and technological skill. Urgh 'technological skill' sounds terrible... I'll ask Paul how to word it...

"It's a symbiotic relationship consisting of engineered creativity."

Yes, that.

It's really beautiful and I'm so happy it's these guys building Story.

Friday, 23 November 2012

40 - One week left

Paul enters Filippo's office, takes his MacBook Air from his bag and wedges it side-ways on its corner in-between the table and a low shelf. So the thing is literally only resting on one of its corners, upright. It was awkward and tense. Me and Filippo stop discussing drop shadows on the text and look at Paul, who's got his 'fuck you' face on. He was making an entrance switching up the tone from 'safety' to 'danger'. We all laugh.

Paul had told me not to mention the three things we wanted Filippo to add to Story (but weren't in the original spec) until he got there. He begins.

"Okay. So, we've got one week left and, Filippo, I know you want to have a chat with us about not being cowboys with changes etcetera etcetara but can I just tell you a little story?"

Filippo winces and nods his head one time.

"Okay. So. There's this guy 'Marty Cagan'. Works for Google. He commissioned some people to go away and make a prototype of those Google glasses. You know those glasses Google are making?"

Filippo nods again with his hands in a prayer position under his nose.

"So he gave them the exact details of how he wanted the glasses made. These guys go away, they spend a few weeks making this thing and they come back and unveil the prototype and he's like, "Don't like it." The guys are like, "But it's exactly what you commissioned." And 'Marty Cagan' is like, "Yeah and I didn't know I wouldn't like it until I saw it. And now I see it I don't like it"

Filippo is frowning. His nods had been slowing down throughout the story until he was almost motionless.

Paul carries on, "So yeah. Not saying I hate Story or anything, obviously, but just, like, yeah. Bear that in mind."

"Okay..." Says Filippo.

I stare at the MacBook Air that is still wedged in the weirdest position. It's starting to look like the monolith from 2001.

Paul keeps going, "Soooooo..." He lowers his head and rubs his forehead. "With that in mind..."

Ah, I get it. Paul's about to tell Filippo about the extra stuff we want in the app. And he does. And Filippo, in a real nice way says no. He explains that he wants to help us. He wants Story to be as good as it can be. But this particular feature, like, he could do it, but it will take a lot more time and more money. I go in for the rebound and ask for one of the things I wanted. I get a no. I mutter the final feature we want. And he said sure no problem. Great!

We spend the next couple of hours going through everything that needs to get done. There is only one week left of development.

When I get home I text Paul asking if he's feeling good. He says yes.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

39 - Niiice

"New update feels niiice"

I get the text from Paul while on my way home from work. Filippo is updating the app most nights now. As I wait at the traffic lights I check my emails and see the one from him. It has a big green install button. I press it and it automatically installs the latest version of Story and I nearly get hit by a car as I cross the road.

It is feeling nice. Filippo's updated the story icons to the latest design and they're looking cool. I view a story and images have a new spinny load thing before fading in real smooth. There's a bunch of other little things he's done too that are making the thing feel like a real app. I enter my flat and show it to my girlfriend, she can't tell the difference any more but nods and smiles and says well done.

One of my test stories is a bunch of photos of meals I've cooked. As I scroll down watching them fade in, reading my captions, it feels niiice. It feels good swiping down a load of photos instead of, say, clicking through on facebook one at a time. It's way less work and makes all the photos feel more coherent. Like they're all part of the same story. Which they are.

We're meeting Filippo tonight to discuss the rest of the development. Haven't seen the guy for ages. There are a couple of things we want in the app that we haven't actually agreed on with Filippo. Well, three things. Three things we'd like. One from Paul and two from me. Fingers crossed eh!

Happy Thanksgiving Ashton Kutcher.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

38 - Tuesday mornings

I'm worrying today. Don't know why.

One of the things I'm worrying about are the tiny compromises me and Paul are making. They're the tiniest little things, one on its own is nothing. But I worry that all the little things will add up to a massive thing.

Nah it'll be fine. I'm just worrying. I'll be fine tomorrow. It's a Tuesday morning. Tuesday mornings are always a bad day. An alcohol come-down from the weekend.

Another of the things I'm worrying about is that we're too small to make a dent. A few guys from London going up against a whole city in California and the rest of the world. They spend millions working out the next big thing; we scrambled together 15k and it broke us. They work full time; we squeeze it in on the Tube or when our boss isn't looking. They have Ashton Kutcher; we've got:

(Me, Paul and Filippo)

So I worry.

I worry that they'll take a look at the thing we've built. The real minimum viable product and rip it off in a week with something looking all polished with all the tiny little animations we can't afford to put in right now and with a load of massive features that people will expect.

But I only worry on Tuesday mornings. Now it's lunchtime and I have things to design for Filippo and my boss is out.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

37 - Shout outs

Story will be like when you give a kid crayons and a pad of paper and they draw all over the walls. I can't wait to see what people create. What my friends create.

I know this guy, Jamie, he writes a blog. Real good writer. Funny. Story will let people follow him and every time he publishes something new it'll pop to the top of their feeds. Like, right now I have go to his website and check if he's updated it. In Story it'll just be there waiting for me. I say that but the guy hasn't even got an iPhone so that's not gonna happen.

Whatever, I know this guy Josh, a journalist. So, you know, you'd expect him to be good at writing, but his emails, you could even publish them. Insightful, intelligent, fucking funny. I'm bored of forwarding them to my mates. They'd make perfect stories.

I know this girl Laura, who works for a charity, the MS Trust. She wants to use Story to show what her charity does.

My friend Fran wants to make a fashion/cooking fanzine. My girlfriend's mum wants to write about the 50+ dating scene. My mate Leon wants to document his involvement with the John Peel Archive.  Some guy called Gary wants to put up a portfolio of his photography. Jamie, another Jamie, actually the Jamie, the guy who's invested in Story, wants to have a list he can update of all his favourite restaurants across the world.

I wanna create stories with my girlfriend to send to her family back in America. Make funny photo stories for her little niece and nephew. Draw cartoons for them to follow. Document our nights in with photos of our cooking and transcripts of our arguments because her mum loves knowing that stuff.

I can't wait, and that's just my friends. I can't wait to see what everyone else in the world draws all over the walls.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

36 - Boom


Paul was in a meeting today and pushing out code from his phone on the sly. Filippo said he was proud of him. I swear it's like the fucking Social Network right now. Paul had tied a couple of ends together. So I launch Story on my phone and take some pictures, write a couple of sentences, give it a title and press the 'Publish' button, it publishes and appears in the feed with its own icon.

(Okay, so I had to quit the app and relaunch to get it to appear but it was there!) And then I tapped on it and viewed it.

Paul's already put a few up. Check this one out. It looks fucking gorgeous. This is all live stuff. No more mock ups.

That's an out of date icon overlay too. There's a newer design that looks even better. And the title isn't on the icon yet, that needs to happen. But you know, getting there getting there!

Friday, 9 November 2012

35 - The bad guy

I have a great story. But I can't write about it. I'm gonna write out a movie script that shares a similar plot line... to avoid any legal complications...


Two Guys strike upon an idea that will change the world forever. World peace and everything. Limitless in its potential. But they can't do it alone. They need the help of a technical genius to build the thing for them. The greatest Engineer. And luckily they know just the guy.

The three of them set upon an adventure and, together, begin building this amazing thing. Everything is going to plan when...


The Engineer receives a threat. A threat that will result in him being taken. The Bad Guy wants to steal the Engineer to work on his own evil plans. But the engineer doesn't want to. The Two Guys rush to save the Engineer but the Bad Guy intercepts and chains them up. There's nothing they can do, only watch on.

"I want to go back in the past and kill his grandfather or something like that." Says the Engineer. This is impossible because time travel is impossible.

But the Engineer doesn't give up and he and the Bad Guy go to battle. The other Two Guys watch on, sad and worried and helpless. As night falls, the battle rages. The Engineer is weary but his passion fights on. They both disappear into the darkness and things look bleak and hope is but a flicker. Is this the end for the incredible world changing idea? It sure looks like it.



The darkness of the night bleeds red. Eventually, as the sun hauls itself upwards, slowly, heavily, the red brightens to yellow and, after some time, to a clear blue. The stillness erupts with the sound of birds singing. A deer prances past, stops, looks at us, looks down and eats some grass, then hops off. 

A figure appears on the horizon. The Two Guys, still shackled, raise their heads. Is it? Could it be? It's the Engineer! He is running. He is smiling. He carries the head of the Bad Guy.

"I fucking killed him!" He exclaims.
"I'm back! I'm back at work completely! And it looks amazing!"
"It's so amazing I want to cry!"

The Engineer and the Two Guys rejoice.



Tuesday, 6 November 2012

34 - Leaving things out

"I like it but it is massively out of scope and we might not be able to work it in. I do like it but it seems like a throw in thing that adds no value at this point."

I'd thought of a little thing we could work into the first version of Story. I kinda liked it, what I'd thought of. It wasn't anything special. It was just a fancy touch. And Paul called it out for that, it really doesn't add any value to our product right now.

I like that we're leaving out everything that isn't 100% required. It will be so simple. If Story gets popular I'm sure we'll be adding features to stay ahead of the inevitable competition. We'll add little touches that make people smile. But no matter where it leads the core idea and concept of Story will be nailed in the first version. I wonder if it'll always be my favourite version for that exact reason.

Right now, Story should be working but Paul said he deleted something from a database meaning, right now, it crashes on launch every time. But this week, to quote Paul again, "this week will be a good week for Story." He said that.


Paul: ok. When do you think the next release is likely to be?
Filippo: ... in 2/3 days
Paul: k
Filippo: I hope 2
Paul: will be a big release :)
Filippo: :D the main app functionalities will be there

Thursday, 1 November 2012

33 - Should be fine!

"I'm going to a meeting, should be back around lunchtime, is that cool?"

"Should be fine!" I reply.

My boss gets up from his desk which is right next to mine and puts his jacket on.

As soon as he turns I click on my dropbox folder and open up one of the Story files. I was up at  6am preparing designs for Filippo but didn't get them finished before having to leave for work. This happens a lot.

Part of me wants to quit, sign on to the dole and design for Story every day all day.

I get a rush of excitement as I make the Illustrator window small enough so people walking past won't notice. I frantically design. These are my best hours. 10am to 1pm, I really get into it. I fantasise about sitting in my own office having this exact same feeling but without the guilt and hunched shoulders. The fantasy is my heaven, my faith. It's-

"Bloody meeting got cancelled."

Fuck. I freeze.

I don't want to make any sudden movements on my screen. Sudden movements like quickly minimising the window or doing that thing where all the windows zoom off the screen. That's what gets you caught. It draws their eye. At the same time, if he glances at my screen, I won't really be able to explain this guy staring back:

I'd got carried away messing around with the Story logo.

Due to the panic I hadn't realised my boss was asking me a question. Then he finished talking because he'd asked it. So the question hung there and I didn't know what it was and this guy is staring like this:

If this was a TV show it would cut to another scene. Like, cut to Paul going, "I've broken Story." And Filippo going, "What do you mean you've broken it?"

"I dunno. I deleted the database like you said and now nothing's working."

"You deleted the database?"

"You said-"

Okay cut back to me; I'm sitting on my desk covering half the screen with my upper body and my left arm draped over the other half. My right hand is holding my chin and my eyes are looking in whichever direction that means I'm lying as I'm thinking of an answer to a question I don't know.

"Yeah, should be fine!" I say.

Canned laughter.

I can't wait to work on Story full time.