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Aug 30

StoryZOT – A Mystery in 4 parts –

Part IPart II, Part III

Already dark by now , you could hear the guy working the counter at the 3 Bill cafe, "strawberry smoothie. Strawberry SMOOTHIE?" It was an underground part of the cafe on Marketing street in the land of ZOT. A place where you could see pedestrians walking up the hill at eye level. A perfect place to explain the StoryZOT.

"What is StoryZOT?" asked the platinum haired lady as she glanced down at the computer screen on which a document had the words StoryZOT titled across it.

"StoryZOT? Oh, what I’m writing. Well, StoryZOT is an opportunity!", exclaimed the young developer. "It’s an opportunity to help Mac users learn about the real lives of some Mac developers and…"

"And?" asked the soft hearted lady as she sat down on the couch next to the young man.

"And, in the process, they can buy a great bundle of Mac applications that have never been on MacZOT before, he said. It’s really a neat idea, if not a bit confusing at first."

"Why is it confusing?" she asked.

"Well, you don’t know what you’re paying for until the end. You’re reading the stories hoping the bundle contents will justify your small investment."

"So, they get to read the stories if they want, but really they just have to wait until the end to discover what they purchased?" she asked in a clarifying tone.

"Correct." said the young developer as he typed in some seemingly obscure Cocoa code into another window in the text editor.

"And, what’s your story?" asked the lady. "How did you get here?"

"Well, do you want the long story or the short story?" asked the young man.

"Honey," she said, "They don’t have to read it to be able to click that Buy button you were talking about, do they?"

"No, of course not. That’s just at the top of the page for the people who want the bundle of applications. The stories are really a bonus."

"Okay," she said as she sipped her double-short latte. "Give me the whole thing."

And so he did, as he closed his handsome, black MacBook and gave her his full conversational attention.

"Well, when I was young, I always liked to create things and was an inquisitive child. I wrote stories, drew pictures, read books and asked my parents far too many questions they couldn’t answer. My insatiable appetite for knowledge was only matched by my hunger to make things other people would enjoy. I was never bored.

I didn’t care for sport, but I liked cars. I knew them inside out, and all the names of all the models before most of my peers had learned to talk properly. I pulled apart anything I could to see how it worked and sometimes even put it back together again. I had a logical mind and would take things a little too literally at times. I remember standing next to my father, who was working on the car when he asked me, sarcastically, if I could get any closer. I told him I would try."

The lady chuckled as she held her coffee mug in both hands as to warm them.

"I grew up in the 80s. I was told I couldn’t have a computer because they were for games and we couldn’t afford one. I got a bike instead. While my father could seem to afford a new car every year, maybe he had a point. All my friends had computers and only seemed to use them for games. I didn’t use computers much in school either. The few times I did made me think I wasn’t missing very much.

However, there was one computer at school that truly captivated me. It lived under a dust cover, behind the doors of a locked cabinet in the corner of a room, jealously guarded by my design teacher. Why the school had this computer was a mystery, as he wouldn’t let anyone else near it. One day, he gave us a demonstration. His voice crackled with excitement as he showed us what it could do. Then he replaced the dust cover, slid it back into the cupboard and padlocked the door.

That single experience of an Apple Macintosh was enough to make an impression on me. It was better than all the other computers I had seen before and inspired me to think about the future. My ambition, by this time, was to be a graphic designer and this Mac could do that like nothing else. The only problem was that it would cost about the same as my father would spend updating his car, so that was the end of that.

When I was 15, my mother told me it’s not good enough to want to be a graphic designer, not with my brain, and then divorced my father for preferring cars to kids. I did what any good teenager would do under the circumstances and started sniffing solvents in the park, publishing my art as graffiti on walls and drinking cheap cider until it all came back up again, but not even that was enough to get me into art school.

Not knowing what to do at college, I took a random business course that mostly bored me senseless, but I liked working with the computers. Realizing I was a late starter, I quit college to take a vocational course where I could learn how to use them properly while earning some money. It didn’t take me long before I was fixing them too. That wasn’t part of my training, I just did it.

Ahh, you don’t want to hear this, it’s kind of boring." the yound developer hinted.

"Son, you have my full attention. Please continue."

"Okay, where was I?" he said thoughtfully.

"A business course and vocational classes where you discovered your interest in computers." the shiny blue eyed lady reminded him.

"Right. Well, that course ended and I eventually got a temporary job producing reports for an IT helpdesk. In characteristic style, I soon started answering support calls. Mostly, these were about big, ugly mainframe computers, but it quickly became apparent that I knew more about PCs than most of the people there, and that became my specialty.

The overworked guy whose job it was to know about PCs had seen enough to own a Mac himself. He banged on and on about how Macs were better and how, if I was going to buy a computer, I should get one. I remembered the Mac in school and this stirred something inside me. I told him I would look into it, but now I knew all about PCs. I loved the troubleshooting and wanted this company to make my temporary job permanent. I thought if I owned a PC myself, I could be even better at my job. I could see his point about the problems with PCs, but could a Mac really be better?

Thankfully, I was saved from PC ownership when I was offered a permanent position on the condition that I trained as a developer, meaning no more PC support for me. I accepted the job and bought a Mac with my pay raise.

That was my first computer and I have never looked back. This Mac had character, it just worked and let me actually do things rather than spend all my time nursing it back to health.

Ten years later I felt I had done everything I could working for other people on big projects for soulless corporations. I needed more, something that could combine my love of writing, graphic design, making something out of nothing and everything I had learned in the previous decade. Without a doubt, I wanted to do this on a Mac. The answer was obvious: to start a business creating and selling my own Mac software on the ‘net.

Now I’m doing my dream job, one that wouldn’t have been imaginable when I was at school. It’s not always easy but that doesn’t matter, I do everything: programming, website, icons, support and more. This is my passion. Funny, I never think of myself as a geek but I guess I am. Most computers bore me. All except one." he concluded.

"Wow, neat story she said. I see your not the only one using an Apple these days."

As they both looked around the cafe together, you could see four other glowing Apple logos grazing the vertical part of open laptops. Funny enough, the people working on Mac laptops looked calm and productive, while the few people on Windows machines had scowls on their faces and urgency about looking for power outlets.

"So," the lady said, "My daughter has a new Apple laptop she uses to write the novel she’s working on. Would this StoryZOT Mystery bundle be appropriate for her?"

"You know, " the developer said as he looked out the window thoughtfully. "The contents of the bundle would be appropriate for most anybody using a Mac. And, at $5.95, if you only get one application that you used on even a semi-regular basis, you’d be way ahead of the game."

"Alright! I’m going to tell her to buy it. Where does she go?"

"Just go to http://maczot.com the StoryZOT Mystery bundle will end soon and she should make sure not to miss out.

Oh, and tell her that more than 400 people are already taking part, so she’ll be in good company.

It was nice talking to you ma’am. Thanks for listening."

"Son, it was my pleasure. It’s wonderful to see somebody doing their passion in life, and it’s obvious you’re doing yours. Thank you for sharing your story."

"My pleasure, " he grinned. "Now don’t forget to tell your daughter."

"Oh, and if she buys before Friday, she’ll get a bonus game to keep her having fun while she waits for the Mystery to be revealed."

"Okay, okay.. her kids loves games. I’ll call her right now."

Aug 30

Part II of the StoryZOT – A Mystery

And thus, the story has begun. A tale of primal code forged from the minds of commoners. Advanced technical training is often absent in the history of an application and the developers behind it. Apple, an organized and well lead group of people who are encouraged to THINK DIFFERENTLY have responded to the demands of the market.

The realization that providing great tools would enable smart people to begin creating games, organizers, and productivity enhancing applications was timely. There are now almost 750,000 people who have downloaded the software one can use to begin their application development on Mac OS X.

Back in the land of ZOT, a vibrant youth walks on stage to present his application, story and enthusiasm to the onlookers. He’s given the microphone, the crowd quiets to a curious rumble, and listenst to what he has to say…

"Thank you for allowing me to get up here and share a few thoughts. So far, I’m enjoying ZOT and find very intelligent and interesting people hanging out here. However, I digress and well, will just dive right in.

Our company got started by two friends who shared a fervor for developing better software. It journeys back much further than the debut of Mac OS X. I resided in Japan at the time and endeavored to unravel how to view and write Japanese characters in Windows 98. After a relentless yet fruitless pursuit for working software I found an article depicting how Mac OS X is bundled with an array of languages on 1 disc with screenshots of how easy it is to write.

After acquiring my first mac and OS X, I noticed it came with free developer tools. I was perplexed on how to actually author applications. I came from a background of windows, I had no experience in coding in any language.

This lead to the acquisition of a book by Aaron Hillegass on Cocoa programming for OS X. I plowed through the examples completely disregarding the pre-requisite of C knowledge before starting. Daily train rides to school were an invaluable time to read and re-read until it started to sink in.

I started working as a programmer making very bad applications that were buggy, but they kept getting better as I started to learn more. Apple really provides us with amazing resources to making great applications for OS X.

I met a variety of people online while working and making programs leading to the collaboration of ideas. That quickly blossomed into a company that made apps that people actually wanted to use. After my marriage in Japan, my wife and I moved back to my hometown of Gilbert, Arizona where I continued to make applications for Mac OS X. I now knew how a software company works.

I left my job working for someone else, and that is when our company started. My wife would often help out with our localization, which was very easy for her as a translator by profession. We are now approaching our third anniversary and were just able to have a wedding in March of this year.

Our flagship application, is a collective idea of my partner and I that has been brewing in our heads for years. We always desired a way to make handle the functionality of our application in a simplistic fashion, similiar to a similar feature in a popular iApp. It has quickly morphed into an ever evolving jack of all trades.

We resolved the best way to accomplish our goals was to be extremely quick with support and listen to the requests. Most of the features in this application’s current incarnation have been user requests that are normally filled within 2 or 3 days.

If chosen to participate in the development of this bundle, I promise to provide inspired software, educate you all on the proper usage, and continue development so you’ll have excellent tools at your diposal. To give a hint without breaking the rults, let’s just say that our application is very relevant in regard to the way Apple themselves is positioning the Mac.

Thank you for your time."

As the developer walked off stage, standing tall, one could feel the sense of pride in the air. There’s nothing like doing something you love and giving back to a responsive community at the same time…

Stay tuned for more in Part 3…