The blog has moved…

The official website has been created and the new blog can be located at http://www.numerly.com/blog/page1.html. Please update your bookmarks and visit us over there!

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Construct 2

My son is 10 years old and I’m trying to get him to think more logically. I’m also trying to introduce him to the concept of being a creator as well as a consumer. I’m trying to get him to experience the taste of putting a lot of time into something, and then the pride that goes with the finished product.

He’s always wanted to create a video game, so I read about game programming and found Contruct 2. It looks like a fantastic way to build a game without traditional coding syntax. I think many products like this exist; however, when I watched a couple YouTube videos (this and this) I was amazed!

We downloaded the free trial and started our first game last night, and it was pretty easy to put something extremely basic together. After an hour, we had a character running around, jumping on platforms, collecting cherries, and unlocking doors. Also, we were able to incorporate character animations for walking, jumping, and just standing. It wasn’t the prettiest game in the world, but it was functional and the development feedback loop was very fast.

Now, we just need to find an artist. 😉

Building a Website

I’m working on the website for Numerly. Many App Store apps don’t have complicated sites and really only exist to serve as a place for users to get support contact information.

With Numerly, the website needs to be a bit more. In addition to support and legal information, I’m moving the blog, adding an ideas page, and hosting documentation for the API.

The blog is currently hosted on WordPress which does a great job; however, I’d like to keep the same visual consistency across the whole site. I think it’s possible to do this with WordPress, but I’m not an experienced WordPress user and I need to pick my battles.

The ideas page will be a nice area which provides some examples of numbers that users might be able to add to their own dashboard. New users will most likely need some help thinking of useful ways to use Numerly. This page will help kickstart creativity.

API documentation might be useless and boring to many; however, to the maker community it’s the sweet nectar of IoT. Using the Numerly API is extremely easy and versatile by design which many makers are going to appreciate.

Designing, building, and hosting the website might take a couple weeks to finalize, so please keep following this blog for further updates.

Five Fifteen Labs, LLC

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Over the weekend, I filed the paperwork to create a company for Numerly. It’s named Five Fifteen Labs, LLC. Eventually, I’m going to move my other apps (Get Gabbin’ and KarmaCards for AskReddit) over to Five Fifteen Labs, LLC, but for now I’m concentrating on Numerly.

Five Fifteen refers to the time I’ve been waking up in the morning for the past 18 years. I wake up this early so that I can write code for at least an hour in the morning before I start my day. I do this on weekends, vacations, and holidays too.

It’s a great time for me to write code because I’m already an early riser and because my family hasn’t rolled out of bed yet. It gives me time to experiment and learn new tools and techniques that I don’t get time for at work.

Plus, it gives me time to build apps like Numerly! 😉

What numbers will you track?

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I installed Numerly on my wife’s phone over the weekend. She likes the app; however, she had a hard time thinking of numbers to put on her dashboard. I feel like many people might fall into her same thinking, so I’d like to take some time to write down some ideas for numbers. Below is a list of numbers that might be good for your dashboard. Please feel free to contribute more in the comments section.

Number Ideas

  • The temperature of a room in your house (API + Arduino)
  • The number of astronauts in space (API, until an official Numerly channel)
  • Today’s high temperature (API + IFTTT + Weather Underground)
  • Today’s low temperature (API + IFTTT + Weather Underground)
  • The days until Game of Thrones returns (Countdown)
  • Today’s UV index (API + IFTTT + Weather Underground)
  • Days since last oil change (Countdown)
  • Days since last car maintenance (Countdown)
  • The days until a holiday (Countdown)
  • The days until someone’s birthday (Countdown)
  • The days until a vacation (Countdown)
  • The days since you changed the fridge filter (Countdown)
  • Cash flow (Google Sheets)
  • The days until an anniversary (Countdown)
  • Number of sales (Google Sheets)
  • How many miles you ran this week/month/year (Create Your Own; tracked manually)
  • The days until a movie is released (Countdown)
  • The days since your last bad habit (Countdown)
  • Your child’s current allowance (Create Your Own)

This is just the tip of the iceberg. As I was writing this list, the ideas just kept coming and coming. It also gave me some ideas for other channels that Numerly can support in the future. I’m excited to see the potential of Numerly, and I can’t wait to create a bunch of channels for everyone to enjoy. I have some great ideas for channels like Fitbit, Nest thermostat, and many more. I also want to integrate with the Apple Watch. I guess I might have an excuse to actually buy one now. 😉

Following Numbers

In January, I talked about making a minimum viable product or MVP. This post included an excellent picture that explains this idea wonderfully. I’ve included it below again so you don’t have to go find it.

minimal-viable-product-henrik-kniberg

For instance, if a user asked for something to drive, then you’d want to give them the simplest possible product. Some users might only want a skateboard, but you just took 3 years to build a car instead of building a skateboard over a weekend. Other users might actually want the car, but at least you can give them drivable products several times over 3 years until they eventually get a car.

I see Numerly following MVP, and one of the features I’ve decided not to develop in the first release is the ability to follow other people’s numbers. I’m not saying that this feature will never make it into Numerly. What I’m saying is just not right now.

There are many other features that Numerly provides that I can’t wait to get into your hands. Manually incremented numbers, Google Sheets integration, days-until countdowns, a public API (which allows IFTTT integration), etc. These are features I think you’ll love like I do.

I also think the Maker community will appreciate these features too. Just imagine hacking together a prototype that takes the temperature of your pool, and then calls Numerly to set a number on your own Dashboard. You’d be able to check your pool temperature from anywhere!

IFTTT and the API

IFTTT is an amazing tool which allows it’s users to create scenarios when things happen in one service, then something is triggered in another. This sounds very generic but that’s the beauty. For example, IFTTT lets you connect Weather Underground with your phone to text you the weather forecast. Or, connect your Facebook profile picture with your Twitter profile picture by triggering a Twitter profile picture change when you change your Facebook profile picture. The possibilities are endless!

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However, there’s a downside to services that want to officially partner with IFTTT. The downside is that services are charged $199 a month to become an integrated partner. It’s probably a good price-point for established businesses; however, it’s a tough pill to swallow for startups. It would be fantastic if startups could catch a break by getting a cheaper rate, but I also understand that might open the floodgates and potentially litter the service catalog.

I’d like to officially partner with IFTTT, but for now the cost is too high. However, hope is still not lost. IFTTT does publish a type of channel called the Maker channel. This channel allows users to trigger API calls to other services, but you have to do it manually. This is a pretty nice middle ground to allow users of IFTTT to use APIs from startups without littering the IFTTT service catalog.

As a result, you’ll be able to update your numbers in Numerly using the IFTTT Maker channel from day one. This opens a whole world of possibilities. What numbers will you track?