iPhone App Update: The History of iMuseCubes

It’s a sunny Sunday afternoon, and I’m crunching pumpkin seeds alongside my hero.

His name is Wendell Martin, and he is the iPhone app developer for iMuseCubes.

The iMuseCubes development team has decided that it’s time to be more “out” about the iPhone app development process.

So get ready, dear readers! From time to time I’ll be posting updates. And since this is the first one, how about a little history of the project?

Where Will I Find a Programmer Who Will Work For Free?

A year and a half ago, I was overwhelmed with my new life as an entrepreneur. It felt lonely and risky, and I felt adrift.

I had so many creative ideas, but I didn’t believe I had the skills or the resources to bring these ideas to fruition.

For example, the task of creating an iPhone app for the MuseCubes seemed completely insurmountable! I had no technical skills, no money to hire professionals, and no desire to work alone.

The Resources are All Around Me

One day I was complaining about this to my friend Randy while we were on a walk. Suddenly, he asked me some questions that changed everything:

“What if the resources you need are all around you? What if you don’t have to do it alone? What if all you have to do is ask?”

A few months later, the very first iMuseCubes meeting adjourned. It turns out that Randy’s friend Wendell is a Java programmer who’d been curious about learning to program on the iPhone. He liked me and enjoyed the MuseCubes. Furthermore, he didn’t need to be reimbursed for his time until after the iMuseCubes began to make money. And Randy was willing to serve as business manager for the project.

It turns out Randy was right. The resources were nearby. I didn’t have to work alone. And all I had to do was ask. Amazing!

Limitations Create Unique Opportunities

We had a team. But we also had limitations.

Wendell, for example, didn’t even own an Apple computer, which is a requirement for programming xcode. We decided that he’d simply come over to my house to work, and thus: a new guideline for collaboration was born: no one was expected to work on the project alone. We would always be accompanied by another member of the team.

On the one hand, this isn’t the most efficient way to work. Sometimes weeks would go by without moving forward on the project. Sometimes we’d spend the first half hour of a three hour meeting gabbing… about dating, relationships, job searches, and more.

But on the other hand, working together became so much fun!! We both looked forward to our work sessions together. Wendell commented that programming is usually a completely isolating experience during which he’s hunched over a lonely computer in a cubicle or at home. However, the iMuseCubes project was entirely social and creative.

We sat next to each other on the couch. I used Wendell’s PC while he borrowed my Mac. I brought him snacks and drinks. We always kept a set of the real MuseCubes nearby, and when programming got tricky, we used them to shake off the stress. Totally fun!!

And the best part was: when Wendell left my home, I didn’t have to do any more work on the app. And neither did he. We were free to lead our regular lives. No homework!! What a relief!!!

Even this blog post, I’d like to point out, was written while we were working together.

A Year Later…

It’s hard to believe a year has passed!

On March 25, 2010 iMuseCubes 1.0 became available as a free app on iTunes. If you’ve got an iPhone, check it out!

It’s still a rough version, and we have so much more that we want to do with it. I’ll blog about those plans later. Because we’re still smoothing out the edges on the app, we haven’t done any real marketing (other than a shout out on Facebook, and this blog entry).

Without any marketing, though, there are 102 phones who sport the app. And the cubes have been rolled 613 times. Yay!!

What I most want to celebrate is: we did it!! At our own pace. In our own way. And I’ve learned (at least) three valuable lessons:

  1. The resources are all around.
  2. Warm bodies working with me are key to collaboration.
  3. Slow work is satisfying work.

Wendell, Randy and I are meeting again in two weeks. More news then…

2 thoughts to “iPhone App Update: The History of iMuseCubes”

  1. Yay, Ann! I love the way my teacher-friends are using the iPhone app (and the regular cubes) in their classes! Here’s another comment by a friend of mine, received on Facebook:

    “Okay, so here’s the scene. My AP students had joined me at the bagel shop for one last review session before last Friday’s AP exam. And naturally they were freaking out. I thought, “this is a moment for MuseCubes!” But alas, my set was back in my classroom. No worries. A student with an iPhone coolly downloaded the app and the next thing we knew, folks were laughing and stretching and twisting and everything in between. Not sure if it helped them on their exams, but it sure was a fun moment! “

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