TDFApp for the Tour de France has just been released on the Apple App Store . We’re really excited to be the first app for the Tour de France 2014 to be made available on the store.

The app is directed at spectators to provide them with useful information and maps and for local businesses to advertise. Particularly it has maps that will work in areas where there is no service.

We’ve spent the last 6 months developing the app and collecting really useful data. The app features include:

  • Maps for Stages 1 and 2. The maps work offline for those areas where there is no service
  • A directory of places to eat and stay, things to do , cycle shops etc
  • Useful maps with car parks, public toilets, bus stations, train stations etc in the area
  • A Photo gallery of beautiful Yorkshire

We’ve only released the iPhone version so far. An Android version is in the works. And more really useful features for everyones enjoyment.

The app has been developed in partnership with myself at Catalyst Mobile AND Cath Blakey from The Fuse

I’ve finally received my iPhone 5 and have it all configured and updated. All my apps are loaded on the device, regardless of wether they’ve been upgraded or not. iCloud, mail setup etc all done. As usual the setup was simple , no glitches or problems and it was a relatively quick and harmless process.

I don’t normally blog about new devices but decided it was time to publish a few of my thoughts on it. Particularly because I skipped on the iPhone 4S and so the differences are more noticeable, and also I’ve recently been working with a Samsung Galaxy S3 so wanted to give my opinion on the differences. This blog is about first impressions, not a comprehensive review.


It goes without saying the performance improvements for me are quite noticeable. On my iPhone 4 I’ve been getting a little annoyed with some lag when I hit a key on the keyboard or switch apps. Settings seemed to be quite slow to load in particular. Starting apps is now very fast on the iPhone 5. What more can I say, its faster in all ways. Its difficult to compare to the S3. I’ve not bench tested all my apps, but in general they seem much the same when compared.

Read on →

Time for a project de-brief? Yawn, pass the pillow…. but not so fast.

One of the keys to my success at Catalyst Mobile was my drive to continuously improve on our processes. A key aspect to this is visibility to everything we do. Not Big Brother style, but using information radiators to monitor velocity and activity over our projects.

I came across a very cool tool over the weekend which just fits the bill. Its been around for a while but we just missed it. In the past we’ve been very keen to get some visibility on our source control activity. Enter the awesome Gource…..

Gource provides an animated tree displaying work on a projects directory tree over time. Its incredibly cool. And its incredibly informative. I tried it out on a number of our projects. Heres a sample of gource video from the Qusik application I built.

Qusik and Gource

Apart from just wanting to stare at the mesmerising visualisations all day and watch our icons zip about the screen, what practical use do we get from this?

  • We get to see who’s working on the project and their level of activity.
  • We see any lulls or bursts in the project activity. Definitely a warning sign when we see no activity over time.
  • We get to understand something about the structure of the project.
  • Structured well we could see effort switching contexts between sub projects.
  • It makes us feel cool when we see what we created. Nothing like some inspiration for the team.
  • Great to share with clients.

Gource works by inspecting the logs from git (and other repository tools), the source control tool we use for managing project source code. There is a rather lengthy install process using mac ports and the optional ffmpeg to create the videos with audio. but its definitely worth it. Nothing like having fun while we work :)

Thanks to Matthew Hutchinson for the installation instructions

I got in there early yesterday with an upgrade to OSX Lion. I have to say it was incredibly easy upgrade. Completely hands free. So why am I now having issues?

I’ve encountered a few problems already. Mainly with my development environments

  1. Xcode wouldn’t run. So I need to re-install to 4.1
  2. git installation blown.
  3. I Can’t build certain projects
  4. I can’t run some of my rake scripts. In particular ones for this blog tool ‘toto’.

Xcode installation was a problem. You now have to re-install Xcode 4.1 from the Mac Store. Download, then install from Mission Control. I got prompted to close iTunes , BUT it was already closed. the installation got stuck. If you get this problem follow the instructions below

  1. launch
  2. run: ps aux | grep iTunes
  3. there should be a process running with name: iTunesHelper
  4. find the process number (in the second column)
  5. run: kill -9 “number” !!! take caution here

Xcode 4.1 installs git too. SO this now solves issue 2 too.

If you reload a project after upgrading to lion and Xcode 4.1 and it doesn’t build, Clean the Build Folder by holding down ALT and selecting Product from the menu. The “Clean” entry will now have changed to “Clean Build Folder” which will wipe the bad PCH duplicates and compile without errors.

Projects are not automatically upgraded to the LLVM compiler. You have to tell Xcode to run this task to0. Be careful though. some projects will only compile under GCC compiler.

Finally, my rake problems. Still trying to sort this out……

I took this snapshot in ASDA today of this till shop divider advertising the ASDA Price Guarantee App we built for ASDA/Walmart.


Not only is it great to see the app we built out in the real world. But to see a client proactively advertising their product in imaginative ways is fantastic. It reminded me how important marketing is. I guess ASDA have some advantages as they are a huge company.

Here’s some interesting trend info on how the ASDA app has progressed

Over the period 28 feb 2011 to 30 May 2011 ASDA has had

78,510 sales downloads

349,950 upgrade downloads

273 reviews averaging out to 3 stars.

What happens when you put a school teacher, a barrister and her sister, me and my 13 yr old son, and a dis-advantaged young man with his carer together. Then tell them to climb up a tree and walk across a 5 meter high beam forwards and then backwards.

Comradeship, trust, and team work - thats what.

I was recently invited by James, friend and Owner of Log Heights to join a group on a high ropes course tucked away at Ripley Castle in North Yorkshire. It happened to be a rare sunny morning which helped dissolve the remnants of a hangover. We all met at the castle and, once introductions had been made, James took us along to the course . In fact we clearly walked on the scenic route around the castle and via the herbaceous borders. I’m convinced this was a ploy to calm our nerves. Either way it worked. It was a beautiful morning.

After a short introduction to the equipment in the store room (an old, but quaint squash court) , we were on our way. Within 10 minutes we were on our first task . A low level team test to get as many team members together on the smallest plinth possible. Clearly a little introduction and broke the ice nicely.

Next up….. the high beam.

Read on →