Rappathon Hacking for a Change

I wanted to share my recent experience I had last week at RAPP’s Rappathon: Hacking for a Change. Last month I attended my usual Digital Dumbo event and was approached by someone about checking out this upcoming hackathon event, and being the person that I am; I’m always looking for the next opportunity to challenge myself, collaborate and learn. So I reached out and was given a brief two days before the event that laid out 5 problem areas in that we as attendees would need to solve.

Check out the brief here: Rappathon Social Media Week Brief

We were encouraged to come up with ideas prior to attending and I thought to address the problem of “How can we eliminate the barriers to adopt alternative forms of transportation such as bicycles”. My idea consisted of a mobile app which empowers and educates people on the choices they choose and the impact those decisions have not just on ourselves but our environment as well. Now known as comoti. The idea was to give people an option to choose how they move from point A to point B. The visuals would amount to icons some examples would be of walking, bicycling, skateboarding, a car, train, bus, boat or airplane.

Rapp Presents Rappathon – Hacking For Change: A New Way Of Collaboration

The app would use location based technology like Google’s map quest API, this would enable the user to input a starting and end point which would equate to travel time. The data would capture expenses, calories burned and a carbon footprint documented into weeks, months or a year but through visuals. An example would be of someone who walked every day to work from home their analysis would be for sake of argument, today you expended 120kcals; saved $10 reduced your carbon footprint by 5% in a total time of 35min 5sec. If this same user on another day chose to take a taxi the analysis would be expended 20kcals, spent $15, increased your carbon footprint by 10% and reached your destination in a time of 15min 25sec. This data would be converted into visuals and can be shared throughout you’re social networks with a gaming perspective in setting challenges for yourself or against others who partake. We could also toss in some fun stuff like you just grew a forest from a seed, this would be someone who uses alternative means consistently, or you just chopped down a tree if you chose to go in the opposite direction of decision making.

I pitched this at RAPP’s ideation session which garnered a positive response and people seemed stoked to work on it. Two other ideas pitched were Start up Start Up and Social Smack down. We were broken up into 3 teams consisting of different disciplines; in addition we had 3 stations in which the idea would stay tied to. So the idea remains at a specific station and the teams would rotate collaboration on the ideas. It was extremely difficult because we had to commit to the project and be able to detach once rotation time came. The role I played was in providing user experience (UX) and Information Architecture (IA).

The 3 ideas we worked on throughout the day was presented at this past Social Media Week hosted by Big Fuel. The panel was moderated by Wayne Pick  Camilo LaCruz   Craig Elimeliah  Paul Steketee  Ozioma Egwuonwu   and Benjamin Gatzke 

They all played an integral role in helping the teams gather their thoughts and strategically structure how it might be best to tackle the situation. Other people involved that contributed was Edwin Chog @e4c4 (backend developer), Paul Molluzzo @PaulMolluzzo (strategy), Aliona @siberiancharm (designer) and Jason Rosado @awayofart (front-end developer).

Closing thoughts: Would I do something like this again? In a heart beat! I learned what I’m capable of accomplishing under super tight deadlines working on multiple projects, 3 to be exact. That is a tremendous amount of work to take on, I had an awesome time making new friends and learning from them also. As I sit here and wonder what could have we accomplished if we had two days or a week?! Collaboration in rotation can it be the new way to innovate? What a concept.

The road traveled

Navigating for inspiration

Visiting sites for ideas is one of my favorite things to do early in the morning, I’ll grab a cup of coffee get in front of my laptop and look at various design trends, fonts and dive into code. As someone that likes to develop and design it’s necessary to stay relevant and current with the new hotness as far as web apps go. Here are a few cools sites I’ve been recently checking out:

The last two above are really more for staying on top of what’s going on in with tech at the moment.

Man what a Year

As this year quickly comes to a close I have to look back and marvel of how far I’ve come and how much further ahead I must travel. As someone looking to become a full time developer it’s been one hell of a ride. I’ve hunkered down and coded my heart away, racked my brain with multiple design concepts in Photoshop and Fireworks. Made it my priority to create for the user and their experience in mind. Fiddled around with fonts and getting a feel for using the right font for the right content and design (design with content in mind). Interface overhauls and everything in-between soaking up as much knowledge as my mind would allow, and then did it some more in preparation of rolling out my site soon. It’s way over due!

Which way to go?

There are some who are unsure of the role they want to play and that’s fine, it’s perfectly OK to feel your way around as to what you would like to do ultimately and that’s the process of finding your niche. My foundation will always be grounded in design but I’ve made the decision to be a front-end developer. If you think for a moment devs (a good one) need to know design regardless being they work in Photoshop in order to prepare assets used when building out applications. So that’s a no brainer there! So I’ve jumped in with both feet getting more into complex code and applying it to my work. It’s been be a bit nerve wrecking but exciting to say the least.

Strip courtesy of I Am Paddy

The show must go on!

Anyone knows that what you would love to do for a living/career is not easy, nothing comes easy that’s worth doing. So with that thought in mind I continue making connections and becoming friends with others who share my passion and continue to push forward in my studies. I’m looking forward to becoming apart of a great team someday and sharing what I’ve learned as well as learning from them.

For now peace out two fingers. : )


There’s so much going on right now as it relates to the web 2.0, digital is everywhere whether it’s a website, mobile app/site, e-commerce, video games or interactive experiences. What all of these platforms have in common is that they all need to be built by someone. This brings me to a current thought I had concerning designers and developers, the very people who make all of these wonderful and hopefully useful innovations happen.

Both play an integral role in the process.

Designers are responsible for making the site or application LooK the way it does with their knowledge of, color theory, typography and UI design. In addition to using production tools such as adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Fireworks including web languages (HTML/CSS, javascript etc.) They also layout how the site will navigate when users interact with it.

Developers are on the other side of the coin sort of. A good developer is well versed in computer languages like the above mentioned and many more… They also tend to delve deeper. Writing clean functional code is what matters most to developers so that the created site will function properly and is maintainable either by themselves or someone else, which usually relates to coding it in CMS if the latter. Another piece of the dev side that needs to be considered is front-end development (client side) or back-end development (client facing). That then brings to languages being broken out for specific uses, html/css, javascript, xml etc…are generally front end client side languages while PHP, SQL, C etc.. are back end server side languages.

I started to ponder how the line between both disciplines are so blurred now to the point that there’s no true blue distinction anymore really, unless an agency is looking for something specific. If you browse today’s job listings whether it’s for a designer position or developer most agencies ask for the applicant to know code from basic html to complex server side languages. Today’s web designer must get into coding and on the other side of the coin developers can make themselves more valuable by getting into design &

motion graphics(Flash, After Effects, Maya 3D etc.)
even though now with html5 canvas tag you can convert flash objects into native web applications. This in itself makes developers more useful and takes a little away from web designers giving designers more reason to study and learn code further blurring the line.

I feel that the line is so blurred and skewed at this point even titles should change in my opinion. I think at this point the term “web designer” or “web developer” is null in void, it’s probably more appropriate to just merge the two and title them web builders.

The Flash would be a GOD!

As I sit here relaxing after a night filled with feverishly intense motion graphics I got the thinking. Would The Flash rule in today’s world of flash animation? Sure he was the fastest super hero in the DC Universe, but was he a good or even mediocre flash developer? Probably not… I recently went to a seminar @ Noble Desktop, if you ever have a chance to check them out do so. They stated at a current seminar (located in Soho) that the current notion that HTML5 is killing Flash is a farce, untrue, bull-crap! In fact flash developers are so grossly over worked, but paid well in accordance to skill level(s).

Clients pay extremely well for these developers to create flash banner advertisements on sites such as LinkedIn or Google in order to reach a broader audience. Most of these flash ninjas have personal websites which have been put on the back burner because they simply have no time to update content due to being so busy. This might sound far fetched but it’s the truth. Being a motion graphic artist myself I know how time consuming projects can become. From storyboarding/composing a concept suitable for a clients product or service, to then using the appropriate media (adobe illustrator, photoshop) to prepare all of your assets. In addition to a looming deadline that must be met in order to please your client, not to mention the head developer and your boss.

So why is there such a high demand for something that is dying out, like a prehistoric dinosaur sinking quickly in black tar? Well for one HTML5 while it’s being boasted as the next holy grail is still in its infancy. Not all browsers are fully capable of supporting it, but flash has been around the block sort of speak. All browsers support it and while Apple has been leading the crusade against it Safari supports it as well. I won’t even get into the whole iPhone/iPad issue. Another reason flash gurus are being snatched up by agencies is that flash is not so easy to learn. Other than learning straight flash once one gets deeper into the discipline you’ll more than likely start getting into actionscript. Actionscript is flashes code or language for lack of a better term, OO AS 3.0 is another way to incorporate flash into web design depending on the sites needs.

Actionscript is an object-oriented language originally developed by Macromedia Inc. currently owned by Adobe Systems not getting into the different versions. It is a dialect of ECMAScript meaning shares the same syntax/semantics of the popular JavaScript, and is used mainly for the development of websites and software targeting the Adobe Flash Player platform, used on Web pages as an embedded SWF file. Funny that as I write this Blackberry just launched its new TV spot showcasing their tablet (Playbook). What really makes it funny is that they have the Flash Gordon theme song playing, and here I am with this title for my post. Go figure great minds think alike?!

In this age riddled with flash applications for multiple platforms like web, mobile phone and the constantly growing tablet(s). This brings me back to my original statement “The Flash would be a God.” at least until he is toppled by future technologies which are always being developed. One things for sure no one can stay on the mountain top forever!

Deciphering Code.

For those of us looking to enter the industry (students) and fill our own niche are faced with certain decisions to be made. Study in this field will require that you to choose a discipline in which to study intensely, whether it’s art direction, copywriting, account planning and the countless others that I will go more in depth in later entries. Another choice that has emerge out of today’s industry is the choice to choose a more traditional role/agency or an interactive digital role.

Personally I’m more for the latter, I see our industry is already heading in that direction taking more of a technological approach. In that regard I wanted to touch upon one of the disciplines that is growing and becoming more in demand (developers). This can mean a multitude of things such as flash developers, information architects and coders (front end/back end development). Today’s consumer is more sophisticated, tech savvy and harder to reach then yesterday’s consumer, couple that with them having more choices in media. This translates to customers being more in control than brands, and herein lies the dilemma. Brands have to incorporate integrated media into their brand experience in order to grow.

In this day an age of Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, Blogs, Vlogs and other social media. Brands are looking at digital agencies to help them deliver engaging content that is compelling. That’s were one aspect of the mentioned disciplines comes into play. The web2.0 consist of websites no surprise there, but what most don’t realize that all of these websites encompass coding to execute the development. Now coding is its own language in itself from HTML, XHTML, CSS to JQuery and too many others to mention, is what those websites are running on. Learning coding takes a great deal of time to learn especially when you start to get into high level code.

It would be a wise decision for students to study a more digital discipline than a traditional one which I believe is dying out slowly. Well actually I don’t think it will die out completely as there will always be print (magazines), TV and radio and even those mediums are being remodeled to accommodate this new tech world. Learning programs like actionscript/motion graphics, BBEdit, Java, PHP, C++, SQL etc… Would benefit the user immensely, just something to think about if you’re looking to emerge in this industry and take it by storm.