Tag Archives: old-codeosaurus

Backbone Reader – First steps

I’ve been diving more into JavaScript, so I decided to take Backbone for a spin.  I don’t know how much I like it.  I’ve put together a simple app that pulls a few items from a single RSS feed and displays them every 5 seconds.

The goal is to make a “ticker” style display for a tablet.

Check out the first instance here : http://codeosaurus.com/BackboneReader/01.html

This is the first iteration.  I’ll be adding a bunch of stuff later, such as:

  • Pull from Google Rss
  • Better UI
  • Better sorting
  • Config display speed
  • Continuous refresh of feeds
  • loop back to start
  • Play / pause control

The whole point of this project is to learn more JavaScript and see what some of the fuss about server side MVC is all about.

Grow Some Backbone

I’ve been looking into Backbone a bit. A great getting started tutorial was recommended to me by my boss.

Check out the tutorial here.

I’ll run through it and put together some notes on what I learned.  One of the first things I noticed was that Backbone didn’t have any templates for views.  It looks I should use Underscore for templating.

Obviously I don’t know anything about Underscore, So I’ll add that to the pile of stuff I need to learn.

I am thinking of making a simple app that pulls from Google’s feed API and do a scrolling news ticker thing.  I’ll make a tutorial and post the code when I get through with it.

The Lean Startup Challenge

Meta Achievement Homepage

App Sumo recently came out with a sweet deal that offers a lot of great tools to give your start up a major boost.  One of my side projects is bigger in scope than most, so any help (especially if it’s cost effective) is great!

Meta Achievement – The Elevator Pitch

Achievements have become popular and are popping up all over the net. Video game consoles and sites like The Sixty One, Gowalla, and Four Square award achievements, but each of them are isolated from one another.  I want to have a site where I can see what my friends have done.

Starting Lean

I like coding and coming up with ideas.  I don’t like setting up servers and worrying about infrastructure problems.  I did some initial research and picked the Google App engine to be the platform for my project.  It seems like the easiest (and leanest) way to get up and running in the shortest amount of time possible.  I’ve been using a few great frameworks to get this going quickly.  I’ve used Django (which is part of the app engine) and Blueprint Css for the layout.  I’ll be using jQuery for a few drag and drop behaviors throughout the site.

Getting Leaner

A few of the things in the indie bundle peaked my interest and I plan on using them soon once I get a solid prototype up and running.


I don’t like server setup, especially email servers.  Postmark looks like it will be great to send out invites to my app and keep users in the loop.

Ask Your Target Market

I’ll be the first to say that this is a site for me, but if I had a nickel every time I’ve heard someone tell me “Achievement Unlocked” in a conversation I’d have enough for a few nice lunches.  That fact aside, I think that Ask Your Target Market can give me some good insight to what features I should add and who would get the most out of my site.


The UI looks sexy and I like data and stats.  Getting set up with Geckoboard is a no brainer.

Kiss Metrics

More data collecting!!  Anything to keep track of how users go through your is a great way to improve the UX on your site.  I am interested in seeing what Kiss Metrics has to offer.

Books, Mentors and More!!

The most valuable part of the bundle (IMHO) is all the books and resource sites that come along with it.  Also, the possibility to get some mentoring is very awesome.

Is it Fun?

I think achievements are fun to unlock.  What’s not fun is when no one else is around to share them.  One of the big things I want to do is stack achievements, which is what the name of the site is based on.  I’d like the community to create individual achievements for platforms, and create cross-platform goals.  A great example of this would be “King of the world – Become a Mayor in FourSqure and a Leader in Gowalla at the same time”.  There are loads of cool little achievements you could do to add up to an epic giant achievement.

Goals and Road Map

As of right now I have a simple interface to create and claim achievements.  I’d like to have a simple (but solid) API so you can reward an achievement to someone who visits your website.  I am motivated to get this project done, but since it is a side project most of the work on it gets done past midnight, so progress has been slow.

I’d like to keep the site as open and free as possible.  Anyone can add, edit and give out achievements.  I think that there may be individuals who would like to lock down an achievement for editing, so there may be an option for some type of pro level / freemium plans in the future.

My primary goal for the project so far has been learn about Python and MVC principles in another language (my background is in C#).  If I can get enough interest in the website I’d love to put more time into it.  I think it’s an awesome idea and fills a void that hasn’t really been addressed by any site out there.

If you think this is a site you’d like to visit please vote for me in the Lean Startup Challenge.  This article is a very late entry, so if you don’t have a chance to vote and are still interested in progress on my project or have any suggestions post a comment or send me an email!

Special thanks to the App Sumo crew for getting this deal and contest up and running.

Meta Achievement

Here’s another project to add to my list of stuff.  There aren’t any Achievement Aggregators out there, or any that I know of.  Seriously, for something that’s pretty popular, there hasn’t been a site to take off that keeps track of all of them.  Some places that you can get achievements that I know of:

  • Game consoles
    • Xbox 360
    • Playstation 3
  • Computer Games
    • World of Warcraft
    • Steam Games
  • Websites
    • Four Square
    • Gowalla
    • The Sixty One
  • Life in General

So there isn’t a cool interface that connects all these things together.  Every acheivment system has the same general format, so that’s a huge plus in terms of data organization…. So if you think about it, it should be easy to make your own achievements too, for the who’ll like in general part of it.

There are a lot of cool stuff that could happen after you make a pretty simple CRUD Api for achievements.  You could add a wiki to it too!

I am looking into the Google App engine to do the bulk of the achievement storage,  unlocks, and account mapping.  Other than that I’ll do a simple MVC 3 site for presentation.

I’ve had this idea for awhile, but have barley started working on it again.  It’s a pretty big project, but I think I can do some small pieces, and still have some awesome stuff.  Stay tuned!!

Remind Me Later App

I am a big fan of software to help keep you organized.  Unfortunately, I haven’t found too many apps that work for me.  I am a huge fan of Nirvana Hq, and that works great for projects and things that are linear, but that’s about it.  Now this may not be the sites fault, and may have more to do with the Get Things Done style, but that’s a conversation for another day. I haven’t figure out the best way to manage reoccurring task.  One of the other problems I have is following up on tasks that don’t really need to get done or can wait for a while — low priority tasks.  The Get Things Done system usually has you put items like this in a “tickler file” or a big pile of “later” or “some day” to review later.  This partially works for me, but it seems like it may be prone to letting items fall through the cracks and it doesn’t allow for a quick run through of items if you want to focus on a group.

The good example of this problem in my personal life is how I keep track of bands.  I love Metric, but they aren’t touring or releasing an album anytime soon.  Rather than check on them every day, I want a simple system to give me a general idea of when was the last time I checked up on the band.  It would be helpful if the system could remind me if it’s been a whiles since I’ve checked up on the band.  I am more prone to follow up on the band if I know it’s been 6 months since I’ve checked out their site.  My current system depends on me trying to remember what was the last thing I heard about the band.  If I can’t recall anything I’ll take a look at the site, otherwise, I’ll get lazy and forget about it.  Obviously, this isn’t the best system and there is room for improvement.

remind me app

The music scenario is a personal example, and I am sure you can think of a similar scenario you may have at work.  You might need a reminder to look for updates to your favorite software (if it doesn’t hound you to update it), or run diagnostic tests that can be done when there is some down time.  I want to eliminate saying, “Jeez, I wish I would have remembered to look into this a few month ago.”

I am working on a small project to address some of these points.  I’ve put together a mock up of how I think the app should look like.  I am going to keep the interface pretty simple, and use a flat xml file as the data source for portability.

I’ve got a quick and dirty prototype working in WPF that uses Linq to XML to generate a simple menu.  I’ll be adding a display for notes next.

The primary goals of this project are to:

  • Get to know WPF better
  • Try some desktop dev
  • Come up with a cool app I can use on multiple computers
  • Write more blogs about development work

I’ll keep you posted on my progress and try to come up with a few cool topics.

Timed To Do List

I made a to do list that uses some new-ish html 5 stuff. You can check it out here: Timed To Do List

I’ll be going over some of the things I learned making this simple project.  I’ll try to do one or two brief articles, so for now check it out!

New New Blog

This is the third iteration of my blog.  I am going back to the mash up of everything that I am interested, rather than a blog for each topic.  I do most of my updates on Twitter as @uz88.  Follow and chat with me there for that latest on what’s up.