But then, so can everyone else!

Some people grow up wanting to become the world’s greatest football player. Or to make a gazillion dollars. Or to obtain political power. Personally, I am attracted to all things creative. Don’t get me wrong, I am no less vain that everybody else, I like to receive recognition and praise for my work, and if I’ve made something I am proud of, I like to show it off. But the driving force is the process of creating.
I like entrepreneurship because it has combination of artistic freedom combined with ruthless honesty: you have to make something people want. The artistic freedom means that you can design a product that you feel is beautiful. It’s a matter of taste. Some people will agree with you and others will disagree. That is okay. On the other hand, if you design a beautiful product that serves no purpose, you will not be able to sell it. You cannot argue that it’s simply because people don’t understand.

In case you hadn’t noticed, Instagram launched an app called Hyperlapse recently. This app lets you make timelapse videos that look incredibly smooth with your smartphone. When I saw this, I had a combination of feelings: “wow, this is so cool, I can make timelapse videos that look really pro”, immediately followed by “oh, but then, so can everybody else!”

I’ve experienced this before. When I started playing with Ableton Live, a music production app that has time stretching-features that were completely unique at the time it came out. Or when I learned about the content-aware fill feature in photoshop.

In Shenzhen you see close up how the world of manufacturing is being disrupted these days. I realized that this had evoked those same feelings in me: wow, the tools and knowledge is within my reach—I can actually make hardware. You can go to the markets and have components to make a prototype for something before lunch. The many 3D print shops can make custom parts at really low cost. And with a Spark core you can have internet-connected software running in no time. Amazing! And also, available to everybody else. Hm.

Every time technology creates new tools for us, more and more the playing field is leveled. But the only sound conclusion to draw from this is that you still need to stick with what you are doing and keep improving. Because no matter how easy something becomes, people can tell when something took effort and they will appreciate that. There will be good and bad hyperlapse videos. Many hardware startups of today will produce incredibly high quality by yesterdays standards, but those aren’t in play anymore. Skill will not go out of fashion, only the context will change.

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Arriving in Shenzhen

I am currently in China, working on a hardware project. I am blogging about it — read about overcoming the first culture shock here.

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That first thing on your mind: they’ve heard it before. Many times

I like networking and socializing and I tend to meet a lot of people. At a networking event a couple of days ago, I met a guy from Ukraine. The first thing that popped into my head when I heard that word was Crimea. However, I stopped myself from bringing up that topic. Not out of some sort of PC sensitivity, but simply because my bet is that this guy had been discussing that topic 15 times that day already. It’s not original.

My personal experience with this is the silly one that when people hear my last name (Dupont), they say “oh like Dupont and Dupond”? If you don’t know, those are characters in the Tin Tin comic books, in English known as Thomson and Thompson. Now, this doesn’t bother me, I have no childhood trauma with this name or anything, but it does strike me as ironic that people typically look at me rather pleased with themselves when they bring it up. They feel clever and informed because their mind made the connection in an instant. Well guess what: it doesn’t make you look that clever.

I witnessed an american introducing himself to a guy that I don’t know where was from (I am in Spain at the moment but he didn’t have the local accent). When he said that he was from The States, the other guy blurted out “Oh, McDonalds! Haha”, almost like a tourette’s-reaction. The forgiving smile on the americans face was priceless, but even if this was a bit of an extreme example, I think it emphasizes how you might look if you just blurt out the first thing that pops into your head.

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CherryTomato Beta

I know, “beta” is kind of a strange tag as CherryTomato was already out and it was version 0.4. However, this version is a complete rewrite because I needed it for OS X. It still works on Windows though, but with a quite different user interface. The new UI is in its infancy so I recommend the beta only if you are curious. That said, I would love feedback.
Beta

This version uses different names for config and database files. This is to make sure you don’t loose your old data as the new version has a different model. It does have the ability to migrate it but I wanted that to be a manual process to make sure you only do that if you mean it.

Get it from www.beatpoints.com/cherrytomato

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CherryTomato in Mono

I received an email a few days ago from the Pomodoro Technique® legal department, informing me that I was infringing on their trademarks. The icon looks too much like their logo and it’s not clear that CherryTomato is not an official Pomodoro Technique® tool.
Well it will be so even less now. 25 minutes might work really well for some things but time boxing can be more than that. For instance, John Cleese recommends you set aside 90 minutes for creative reflection now and then. You should watch this talk talk not just for the content which is great, but also for a demonstration of how to engage an audience with humour and insight:

John Cleese – a lecture on Creativity from janalleman on Vimeo.

I have been on OSX for about a year now. As CherryTomato is written in C#, I decided to take a look at Mono and try porting CherryTomato. I ran into a bunch of challenges and decided to start from scratch instead and as you might know, it has taken me much longer than I initially anticipated. I have been using CT myself for a while now and it seems to be close to ready for a beta that runs both on Windows and OSX.

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Runtime Assembler for C++

rtasm is a project i made in 2005 for university. It’s a runtime assembler for C++ that allows you to write code that is assembled at the very last minute. This allows you to write generic code with conditions that still performs incredibly well because they can be evaluated before loops with deep context knowledge.

I haven’t been working on the project for a long time but I thought it was a waste to have the code just sitting on my drive so in spite of two failing unit tests, I have now uploaded the source code to GitHub. Maybe at some point I will look into it again.

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12months

After a rather tedious approval process (of my company, not the app), 12months is live in the app store.

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It is Amma’s and my Project Getaway experiment. It’s an iPad calendar that shows you the entire year in way that makes planning easy, inspired by David Seah’s Compact Calendar.

This is my first experiment with mobile (tablet apps count as “mobile”, right?) and though I have many ideas for features, I wanted to get a simple version out just to run through the process and to see if there is any interest. It has been out for three days now and has sold around 20 copies. I am really curious to see what the trend will look like in a couple of months.

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Project Getaway 2011

I am currently in Bali, at Project Getaway 2011. It’s three days in and I am very excited. Everybody here is awesome and I can already feel entrepreneurship and inspiration in the air.

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The Story of a Bootstrapped Startup..

This is my talk about Minimum Noise at Sun, Sand and Startups in Barcelona 2011.

Some people have asked me about the restructuring we did of the landing page.
One of the articles that were inspirational in that regard was this one: http://www.conversion-rate-experts.com/seomoz-case-study/ — I highly recommend it.

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Shower Whiteboard

If there is one thing we’ve learned from stock photography, it’s that windows make good white boards — especially for flow charts.

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..well that, and that thinking big means planting a tiny tree in a very big pot and while customer support might sound like some middle-aged Indian guy it is, in fact, a hot chick with a headset. But I digress..

I was rereading the Paul Graham essay The Top Idea in Your Mind the other day. PG asserts that the one thing that occupies you the most is the thing you are going to think of in the shower which I generally find to be true. This spawns all kinds of little ideas and I realized that I tend to forget these, like dreams. You know there was something, but it’s just not very clear what is was. As I just moved into a new flat where there is a large glass wall in the shower, I decided to buy whiteboard markers for it. It’s geeky, yes, but I am quite excited about it.

There is a risk, I guess, that this is too structured and can have a negative impact on the free flowing kind of thought but that doesn’t seem to be happening. You get one “file” per shower. You can erase something with the water but then the wall is wet and useless. This limitation seems perfect for keeping you in brainstorming mode.

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