Category Archives: Main News

How to survive a seven day cleanse and enjoy it

I recently completed the phMiracle Total Cleanse. Unlike some of the cleanses that restrict consumption to things like cayenne pepper and maple syrup, the phMiracle cleanse is a raw vegetable cleanse that includes three solid foods; tomato, avocado and tomatos. In addition you can eat soups with a fair number of restrictions, they can’t contain any animal or wheat byproducts. Also sugar is off limits. The whole premise behind the phMiracle philosophy is the bring the ph level in your body to 7.5 or higher. Numerous studies cite the connection between having a highly acidic blookd level and the negative impact it can have on your immune system. The diet includes a number of supplements as well including a dry vegetable supplement and various cleansers that you serve in water. My wife and I used fresh lemons and limes to add some flavor to the water and various supplements, because you drink a lot of water on this cleanse, 4 liters per day.

Pros – If you can get through the detox you will feel completely revived and you should have a new level of energy. You will cleanse too. Be prepared to be near a toilet. I started the cleanse on a Thursday afternoon which was perfect because I worked from home on Friday and then had the weekend. The first three days were the toughest to get through for me. When I went back to the office on Monday I was in a good rhythm with my diet.

Cons – You will have a couple of bad days. If you eat sugar, bread, meat or drink coffee, your body will physically miss these foods. Fatigue, lack of energy, serious cravings, head aches and diarrhea are the things I felt during the process. Your body is releasing the toxins built up over the years of consuming these foods. You also may feel weak if you do any endurance work outs. I found myself winded, but this is likely because I wasn’t eating enough. For a mail, you are supposed to consume 4 cucumbers, 4 avocados and 4 tomatoes per day. I was likely eating one to two of these each day.

Avocado y TomatilloDay0 – started after lunch. Had a fiji water on the way home from ft. laud. which is listed as neutral on the pH scale. Dinner was tomatillo y avocado with cucumber chips. 2 veggie mixes and 2 phlush. (Thur)

Avocado, Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Day1 – first full day. Really hard. Had a veggie juice with wheat grass for lunch. along with staple for dinner and chia seeds for b-fast. 2 veggie mixes and 2 phlush.(Fri)

White chia seed and almond milkDay2 – the worst day. Started to detox around noon maybe 2. took a nap for an hour and woke up with limbs feeling numb. I was told by a physician that night that that was in fact detox. 2 veggie mixes and 2 phlush. (Sat)

Day3 – better day. Food on FB. Took kids to Jupiter and DeChams. Cheated by eating some almonds. Started to flow though on the can. Veggie juice at Whole Foods. 2 veggie mixes and 2 phlush. I had some soap that night and my wife and I splurged by splitting half of a slice of cheese pizza. (Sun)

PhlushDay4 – an even better day. All good eating accept had some cashews and the juicer was broke at a Whole Foods so I had they made me a shake with kale, spinach, bananas and apples. Fruit is a cheat. It seemed so sweet to me. 2 veggie mixes and 2 phlush. (Mon)

Day5 for dinner I had thick tomato slices topped with cucumber, avocado, humus, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, along with some pepper soup with garlic salt and pepper, one more veggie drink and one more clay.

Avocado, cucumber, tomato with tomato soup

Day6 One of my best days yet. Started with 1 liter of pH balanced water lemon. . As usual white chia seed with almond milk for breakfast with a veggie drink, phirma and chlorophyl drops. I then did my clay with L-Argenine. Eat a couple of cashews at the office. Drank an Ultimate Veggie from Whole Foods for lunch. and for dinner all I had was some pepper soup with garlic salt and pepper, one more veggie drink and one more clay.

Avocado, Tomato and Cucumber Salad and a humus dip

Day7 I am done, finito and hasta luego baby. I had my first “meal” today (or what most people would call a meal). I am having a beer tonight to celebrate. Note that I said a beer, not 4 or 5. 

Cooked Veggies Platter

The end of the cleanse is bittersweet as I really felt that I was in a groove. So why stop? Good question and i think the word “stop” is a misnomer. I am not stopping I am actually just beginning. The awareness I have gained on nutrition, balanced diet and what I am capable of has expanded greatly over the past 7-days. So this isn’t really over. No its a new beginning. I am not going to quit I am going to start being far more aware of what I ingest. I love beer, wine, bread, pasta, chicken, steak and seafood. I am not going to stop consuming those things. But I am going to moderate far more than i did before. Furthermore, raw vegetables will replace wheat as my staple going forward.

An evening with Carl Hiaasen and a lesson on how to kick ass

Carl Hiaasen Kick Ass


There are three things you can do if you want to improve your writing skills: 1). practice your craft, 2). read and 3). take notes from the pros. Tonight I was fortunate enough to experience #3 as we attended a speaking event that Carl Hiaasen gave to a group of environmentally minded kids called the RiverKidz. My two children are part of the RiverKidz, a group of youngsters who are interested in cleaning up the St. Lucie Estuary and Indian River Lagoon. These bodies of water are being impacted in a very negative way by the fresh water run off from Lake Okeechobee in Florida.

Hiaasen is a native Floridian who has been writing fiction novels based in the state of his birth since 1986. The satirist has written over 20 novels, two of which were made into full featured movies including Strip Tease starring Burt Reynolds and Demi Moore.  Hiaasen’s sense of humor is quick and contagious. His mannerisms are very natural and flowing, not calculated or rehearsed. Since the audience was made up of a number of kids, he talked about the three children’s novels he wrote. After his talk he opened up the floor to questions. My son asked the first question. “Do you feel that you had a good childhood?” He seemed a little taken aback by the directness of the question but answered with a resounding “yes” as he was able to spend most of his time outside, riding his bike, fishing, hiking, hunting for snakes and exploring what was wilderness back in the late 50s in western Broward County.

He had some great advice for aspiring writers, both young and old.

1. Read a lot…as much as you can. Aside from being a best selling author, Hiaasen still writes a weekly column for the Miami Herald. To stay current with issues he told us that he reads three newspapers per day.

2. Write a lot too. Pretty obvious sure but he said if you want to write you need to train the writing muscle and the best way to do that is through journaling. He encouraged the kids to write down at a least a few sentences each day about what was on their minds and what they did. He said that after a few months you would be amazed as to how much improvement you will see between what you wrote say a few months ago and what you write today.

3. He then talked about what he seemed to consider his key to success. Never write your ending before you begin. He feels that character development is the most important part of the process. He builds characters in his mind, commits them to paper and then builds upon them, shaping their personalities throughout the book and potentially from book to book. Much to the chagrin of all of the English teachers in the audience, he does not start with an outline. He starts with the characters and lets the story build around them. He doesn’t feel that writing would be very fulfilling if he has the ending figured out before he writes. He lets stories evolve and admitted that he has no idea how a book will end until he ends it. He creates interesting characters and then lets them write the story.

Hiaasen body of work
Hiaasen body of work

Mind over matter: How to survive the Grand Canyon rim to rim to rim Death March

Double Rainbow Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is truly of the national treasures of the United States. Nearly five million people see the 1 mile deep Grand Canyon each year. This photo was taken near the South Rim overlook. The double rainbow was an added bonus. This is the place most tourists visit. A much smaller number of people see the Canyon from the North Rim, which lies just 10 miles directly across the Canyon from the South Rim.

Why just look at it through a lens, right? Not good enough for us. We decided to take on the rim to rim to rim (aka Death March) challenge. We wanted to hike from the South Rim to the top of the North Rim and then back up the South Rim in less than 24-hours.

Don’t want to read all of the gory details? Skip to the Just the Facts. I’ll be bummed but not offended.


At the beginning of the year I started doing the P90X2 workout program. I had done P90X (kind of at my own pace) and wanted to try out the new one. In my mind there was no correlation between preparing for the Death March and doing P90X2. But during the hike it became clear to me just how much that workout program helped me. First and foremost, it was the upper body strength I gain from it. Strange that this would be useful on a long hike, but when you are in those 4,000 feet stair climbing ascents, your hiking poles will become your best friend. Get good, light and sturdy hiking poles. I relied on them a lot, especially during the South Kaibab ascent.

Outside of P90X2, the main training regimen used by me and the guys I hiked with was stair climbing and taking long hikes on the weekend. We live in Florida, which doesn’t have terrain conducive to training for 4,000 foot elevation changes. So we took to the stairwells. Stair climbing as a training exercise is both grueling and boring. Trapped in a hot and humid stairwell with your closest friends for a couple of hours on the weekend is anything but glamorous. But its effective and although it didn’t fully replicate the ascents we were about to encounter in the canyon, it did help to build up leg strength and endurance. Long practice hikes are also useful. It gets you acclimated to being on your feet for a long period of time, carrying a pack and ensuring that you are drinking and eating adequately.

The Death March

We did the hike on Saturday, Oct 13th. Although we had up to six guys in our training routines, only four of us actually hiked the Death March. Two of the guys had done it before which by definition makes them more insane than me and the other first timer. The day before it had rained most of the day and was cold. That night it dropped into the low thirties on the south rim. This really concerned us since we were starting at 4am. We had a big pasta dinner at El Tovar the night before and we saw some spectacular views as sunset approached. The double rainbow in the canyon made me feel that things were going to be Ok the following day.

We started out at South Kaibab Trail – Elevation 7,260. There is no water on this trail so we had planned to drop some Gatorade and food at about the midpoint of South Kaibab. It was in the lower 30s when we started . I had four layers on top and windbreaker pants over my convertible hikers. Furthermore, I had gloves, a knitted cap and neck warmer. I was nice and cozy when we started, but once we were a mile or so down I started to heat up pretty fast. I was sweating to the point that I drenched my silk base liner. There was also a concern about ice on the trail, so we had mini cramp-ons as well. As all hikers know, whatever you carry in, you carry out. So we paid a high price in carrying the extra weight around.

After about an hour in we hit Skelton Point which is mile marker 3.0 on our hike. Here we dropped food, our warm clothing and cramp-ons. We put our food in Tupperware and marked them with our names, the date and reflective tape. We wanted to make sure that anyone else who happened upon the stuff knew we were coming back to fetch it. We also dropped Gatoraid here, since we knew on the way back up that South Kaibab had no running water. In hindsight we took too much food. We made three food drops. Lots of hikers do this trip without dropping any food. Even though you can burn up to 10,000 calories on this hike, your body can only absorb about 3,000 calories per day.

We got to the bottom of South Kaibab in two and half hours. The views of 6.3 Black Bridge and the Colorado River are spectacular. We crossed the bridge over to Bright Angel Campground where we made another food drop. This is also a good place to change clothes if you need to. A fresh pair of socks always feels great. This is where I had the first of peanut butter and jelly meals.

At 7.7 miles into the trip is Phantom Ranch where we replenished water our water. The elevation there is 2,460 feet. Since I live in Florida, I am not accustomed to these types of elevation changes. The elevation at my house is 40 feet.

The next 14 miles of the hike is the so called flat part. There is one area about halfway between Phantom Ranch and Cottonwood that some people call “Silly Hill”. WE decided to avoid this by taking the Ribbon Falls trail. You have to cross Bright Angel creek to do this. If the creek is running high you aren’t getting across unless you plan to swim. Fortunately for us we were able to hop across a couple of rocks in the creek to get over it.

Cottonwood Campground is 14.7 miles into the hike. This was our third and last food drop. There is water here, so I made a quart of electrolytes to last me until the next stop.

REST AREA with new bathrooms. The next stop which we felt was optional is , where we ate some more, refiled water and went to the bathroom. The bathrooms here are brand new and the best on the trail.

You start to experience the ascent when you leave REST AREA. Supai Tunnel is about halfway up North Kaibab and 19.8 miles into the trip. This was our third and final food drop. There is water and restrooms here too. We decided to leave our packs for the summit up to North Kaibab. It sure felt great to have a break from the packs, but we did run the risk of something happening to them. We each brought a water bottle, gloves and an outtershell in case it was cold.

The North Kaibab Trailhead is 21.5 miles and it put us halfway. The push up to the top was challenging. One of our guys was looking a little piqued according to the ranger up there. The elevation at North Kaibab is 8,250.

We only took a 15-minute break at the top of North Kaibab. Due to the elevation and open exposure, it was a bit colder. However we had to get some photos at the top before we get to do this all over again. So from there we made good progress back down North Kaibab. We retrieved our packs at Supai Tunnel, eat the food we stored there and then made the trek down to Cottonwood, with a quick stop at REST AREA.

One of our hikers started to feel poorly on the way down from North Kaibab. He was eating and drinking but he felt hot and then chilled. By the time we got to Phantom Ranch he was in pretty bad shape. We had some friends staying at Phantom Ranch and tried to convince our buddy to stay with them. He refused. So when we got about 30 minutes up South Kaibab he said “Guys – I am going to turn around”. We had a “we are all in this thing together” attitude. So when our buddy wanted to bail, we felt we had to go back down with him. Ask lots of convincing, he talked us into letting him go back on his own. He is an experienced hiker and he convinced us that he could make it.

And then there were three…so we started back up the very difficult slog to the top of the South Rim. I broke down the North and South Kaibab ascents into Hell 1 and Hell 2. I got through Hell 1, so now it was time slog through Hell 2. Your mind does strange things when your buddy is under so much stress combined with mind numbing monotony. For me tunes stream through my mind. The same tune over and over again. For me its was The Pixies, “Where Is My Mind”. Very appropriate for a trip like this.

When we got about 1.5 miles up South Kaibab we started to loser another buddy. He asked us to stop and after drinking some water he got sick to his stomach. I looked at the remaining healthy hiker with a look of “we lost one, now we are losing another one, what do we do now?” After he got sick we asked him if he felt better and he said “Yes” he just wanted to go slow and take breaks when we turn the corner on the switchbacks. So after 2-3 switchbacks we would stop, allow our buddy to drink some water and then start walking again.

About 2 miles up we saw this light coming up from behind us. The voice said “Move over”. We thought it was someone jogging up, but it was in fact our friend that we thought was going back down. What he did instead was simply lie down for 10 minutes, collect himself and then he started back up. He made good time and caught up with us since we were going slow to keep our other buddy engaged.

Back as a four member team we got reinvigorated to hammer out the remaining 4 miles. South Kaibab is switchback hell. You don’t appreciate this when you are going downhill because you are moving fast and feeling great. When we got to base of the South Kaibab we had been at this for 16-hours. Now it was time to make that final uphill push which took us over 5-hours.

When I saw the mule sign I knew we had made it. My buddies were like “big deal – its the mule sign”. But I remember that it was right near the top of the trailhead. We were at the South Rim by 4am and returned to the South rim at 1:21am. We hiked 43 miles in 21 hours and 21 minutes. Here are major waypoints.

Just the Facts:

We did NOT do the traditional 44.9 mile Death March that begins at the Bright Angel trail. We did the 43 mile South Kaibab Death March. South Kaibab is 1.9 miles shorter than Bright Angel (a good thing) but its a bit steeper and there is no water on the South Kaibab trail. Tip: Drop a container of water or electrolyte infused beverage at Skelton Point or some other landmark on the way down South Kaibab, so you will have something to get you home on your way back up.

We were at the South Rim by 4am and returned to the South rim at 1:21am. We hiked 43 miles in 21 hours and 21 minutes. Here are the major waypoints.

0.0 South Rim – South Kaibab Trail – Elevation 7260

3.0 Skelton Point (dropped food and clothes here)

6.3 Black Bridge / Colorado River (2:30 in) Lapped here on stopwatch. Second food drop at Bright Angel Campground)

7.7 Phantom Ranch (replenished water) Elevation 2460

(Tip: Want to avoid going up a hill and back down again? If so take the Ribbon Falls trail to avoid what some people call “Silly Hill”. Note: You must cross Bright Angel Creek. If the water is too higher you either have to turn around and go back or swim.)

14.7 Cottonwood Campground

19.8  Supai Tunnel (Third food drop – we actually left our packs here to for the ascent to the North Rim)

21.5 North Kaibab Trailhead (parking lot) Elevation 8250

Turn around and repeat. We finished the Death March in 21 hours and 21 minutes.

Accident brings me face to face with what ails the St. Lucie River

This week I came in close contact with what ails the once-pristine St. Lucie Estuary.

In 1964, I was born on that very river, in Martin Memorial. My family left Stuart before I was 1, but my mom tells me stories of how clean and pristine the river was almost 50 years ago. I returned to Stuart in 1997 and have lived on the river ever since.

My iPhone was accidentally dropped in the river one recent Sunday. It fell near my dock so I had an idea of where it was. I borrowed a 120-volt underwater Q-beam and dove down to find it. Even with the Q-beam, I still could not see my hand if it was more than 3 inches from my face. Unless you are a fish accustomed to living in total darkness how do you survive in that?

The only way I felt I could find the phone was to rake a 10-by-10-foot section of muck under the boat and dock. The bottom is so loose that it required little effort. I had a mound of muck around my feet and then I dove down and felt through all the rocks, oyster shells and muck that was raked up. Miraculously one of the handfuls of stuff included my phone.

Our river is in sad shape. I knew we had a problem. But I felt like someone else was handling it. However activism is required — standing by won’t solve this or any other issue that negatively impacts our community.

I would like to know from those who have studied this issue whether a practical solution is available to us.


From Web SQL to IndexedDB. What’s next?

I just spent the past couple of days wiring up a persistent data store in the mobile web app I am developing. I want to move the app with Phonegap to iOS and I realized that persistent data storage was a must. Even not being a native app, giving users of mobile web apps the ability to function when they have no or poor internet connectivity is a must if you are going to achieve a level of customer satisfaction that approaches that of a true native app.

So I didn’t read between the lines and I spent the past couple of days learning how to implement SQLite for the web. SQL is a comfort zone me and many of us who’ve been in this tech game for a while. The data I am working with maps well to tables and is easily manipulated with joins. I got my prototype working and when I stumbled across the raging debate over WebSQL vs IndexedDB.


NEWS FLASH: Web SQL was Deprecated in Nov of 2010. So I’ll admit I’ve been hiding under a rock but this debate continues to rage. I’ve been glued to the back and forth happening at HTML5ROCKS and this great thread by Kevin Dangoor on Google+.

For starters, html5rocks is where I found the most useful tutorial on developing a simple web database. They followed that up with a great post by Ido Green on how to migrate from Web SQL to IndexedDB. But man this move by the W3C just isn’t sitting well with people. I guess if I was a 20-year DBA and staring at the NoSQL tidal wave, I’d be nervous too. Personally I am just getting back into development after a long hiatus and find the rock throwing amazing but counterproductive.

Two quick picks

I have been so lame on the blogging front lately. I’ve been consuming less and producing more with a number of projects I am in the middle of. I’ve been grooving on this idea of “scaling back for growth”. Can’t wait to start talking about it more here. Anyway, I’ve been using WPEngine on two projects, ExumaTech and HeroLaunch. The latter is a network of niche social media sites built on WordPress.

The migration to WPEngine has had its challenges, but the performance, along with a number of really nice features like a ready built staging area and restore points, has made it great. The picture below on the performance improvements as per Google Webmaster Tools speaks volumes.

These are the Crawl Stats Googlebot activity in the last 90 days.

Time spent downloading a page (ms)

So it takes about 1/10th the time to download a page. Thanks @wpengine.

Also, a quick pick from a brainstorming session on our mobile app. I love Balsamiq Mockups and Codiqa. But sometimes nothing beats a white board.

Mobile brainstorming session

Four Hour Work Week: Amp Empire Contest Result

About a month ago I entered the Four Hour Work Week App Empire Contest sponsored by Chad Mureta with an idea called StitchaVid. The contest was a great learning experience for me because it was the first time that I had really sat down and worked through the process of researching and designing an app idea for consumers. I am currently working on a business app that is nearing alpha, but I had never done a consumer app.

There were over 500 app entries and mine made it to the final seven. The seven finalists received a signed copy of Chad’s book App Empire: Make Money, Have a Life and Let Technology work for you. Here is an excerpt from the email we received from Chad:

Hi All,

I'm sending this message to a very select group of folks (only 7 of you, in fact) to say THANK YOU for the incredible effort you put forth in our recent contest on Tim Ferriss' blog. I was blown away with the thought and care each of you put into your entries, and I had so much reviewing everything you guys put together. You all made this whole contest idea worthwhile!

We're still wrapping up our final choices and deciding who the winner will be, but in the meantime, I wanted to offer each of you a free signed copy of my book. No strings attached -- just a small token of my gratitude!

I decided to step back from my StitchaVid app idea and let things simmer. After all I am running a business and nurturing a start-up all at the same time. The app is not relevant to either of those efforts. I’ve decided to NOT pursue the StitchaVid app. While I think the project would be fun, I believe it’s an expensive app to develop. Unlike an emoticon or flashlight app, a video production app would take some real development effort to do it right.

Even though I am not pursuing the app, the process I learned to research and design apps should serve me well in the future. It’s already helped me evaluate other app concepts that are more relevent to both my business and the start-up. So…I wanted to publically say Thanks Chad for the inspiration. Its not often that you read a post that produces 15-hours of productivity out of a reader.

Parts and Service Management on the go…

In my last post I wrote about the new DockMaster Mobile app we are building and introduced basic concepts, such as adding customers and retrieving customer info from your smartphone. As I mentioned before we believe that a mobile business app shouldn’t do everything that the desktop application can do. We are aiming for efficiency and ease of use. We want to uncover the routine tasks our customer perform daily when they are on the move and away from a computer. In this post we will dive more deeply into some of the Parts Inventory functionality.

Continue reading Parts and Service Management on the go…

StitchaVid Summary is a video and photography app that allows people to “stitch” together a video using photos in their iPhone or iPad gallery. You not only can choose the photos you want to use, but the app gives you a number of background music choices, the ability to add scrolling text and various filters, as well as the ability to add voice annotations and snippets. It is a FREE app. Revenue is generated by in-app purchases of extended snippet capabilities, voice filters, image filters, branded images (e.g. rock bands or sports teams) and copyrighted music.

For detailed research and statistics on this app idea click here.

How to Build an App Empire: My Concept for the Four Hour Work Week App Challenge

StitchaVid ( is a video and photography app that allows people to “stitch” together a video using photos in their iPhone or iPad gallery. You not only can choose the photos you want to use, but the app gives you a number of background music choices, the ability to add scrolling text and various filters, as well (and this is the differentiator!) to add voice annotations and “doodles”. It is a FREE app. Revenue is generated by in-app purchases of extended doodle capabilities, voice filters, image filters, branded images (e.g. rock bands or sports teams) and copyrighted music. You can find a sample of what a video using StitchaVid might look like here.

I am entering StitchaVid into the Four Hour Work Week App Challenge. The contest got me motivated to analyze the idea through market research techniques offered up in Chad Mureta’s post “How to Build an App Empire: Can You Create The Next Instagram?“. I built mockups using well “Mockups” from Balsamiq. I created the video using iMovie. Lastly, I decided to track the time expended on this effort since I know how much Tim loves time management. I wanted to test for myself how long it would take for me to go through this process. Regardless of the outcome of the contest, this was a fun and rewarding learning experience.

Here is the process I followed:

1. Market Analysis (5.75 hours): This is where I spent the majority of my time which makes sense because you don’t want to invest the time and money building an app no one wants. There is clearly a market for apps that allow people to manage videos and photos. There are 1,000s of photo apps. “Photography” has its own category in the App Store. According to there are 13,675 (2.19%) Photography and Video apps. The high is Games at 109,154 (17.47%) and the low is Weather with 2,598 (0.42%). Its a popular category, but nowhere near Games. Still, the art of taking and sharing photos continues to get reinvented as both the picture quality and camera features of smartphones improves.

The question is: “Do people want to take photos and convert them to video?” Here are the goals for StitchaVid:

a. The app MUST improve upon apps or ideas that already exist and have proven to be popular

b. I must be able to verify with existing market data that demand exists for my app concept

c. The app should enhance the usability of the communities my partner and I are already building (more on this later)

Top FREE AppsOn April 26, 2012, the two top FREE apps were video or photo related (#1 Viddy and #2 SocialCam). Since the invention of the camera, humans have been fascinated with snapping images of reality and augmenting and repurposing those memories in a myriad of ways.

My app will be free and include plenty of in-app purchase options. That’s why I felt that the Top Free category was the best place for me to do my analysis. I wanted to look at the top video apps in the App Store for pointers on what people love about them. I then wanted to analyze the top app in the niche of creating videos from photos to see if a market even exists for such an idea. I found Animoto which is #68 in the Photography category for top grossing apps. Using Chad’s suggested research questions I came up with the following:

Viddy (Viddy, Inc)

– Why is this app successful? – Easy to use, it is amazingly social by design, it takes what is so popular about Instagram and does the same thing (basically) for videos, it removes some of the complexities of dealing with large video files by limiting the clip length to 15 seconds, slick clip editor that allows users to easily trim their videos to the 15 second limit.

– What is its rank and has it been consistent? #1 on Top FREE. Top 10 since Apr 11th.

– Why do people want this app? “Fun, great, cool”. Getting lots of traction from being billed as the Instagram for video.

– Has this app made the customer a raving fan? Average rating 4.5 stars so I would say “yes”.

– Does this app provoke an impulse buy? Yes but its subtle. The app has a marketplace feature that allows users to “packs” that enhance the video effects (e.g. filters) or add branded images. There is a “bundle” called “Linkin Park Bundle” that you can buy allowing you to add Linkin Park branding, etc.

– Does this app meet any of my needs? No because a 15 second video would be completely ineffective for a social site about cooking. However it may work in some of our other niches like surfing. Any of our niches that utilize GoPro cameras could work well with Viddy.

– Did I become a raving fan after trying it? “Interested” but not “raving”.

– Will the customer use it again? Clearly. It benefits from an incredible net effect like Instagram powered by social sharing.

– How are they marketing to their customers? There screen shots, icon design, and descriptions are first class.

– What is the competitive advantage of this app? Very well designed. Strong affiliate partners, social buzz.

– What does this app cost? Are there in-app purchases? Advertisements? Free and no ads.

SocialCam (

– Why is this app successful? If Viddy is the Instagram of video, SocialCam is the Path analog. Even the user interface reminds me of Path. Unlike Viddy, I could not find video length limitations with SocialCam (but surely they exist). This apparently is their Viddy differentiator because they advertise this in their screenshots. Like Viddy it is also easy to use, it is amazingly social by design, it takes what is so popular from primarily Path but also Instagram and applied it to video.

– What is its rank and has it been consistent? #2 on Top FREE (4/26/12). Top 10 since Apr 21st.

– Why do people want this app? “Easy, Fun, Love it” were some of the reviews in the App Store. One person said that it brought them into a “family”, so community is a strong theme across the review.  Getting lots of bounce from being billed as the Instagram for video.

– Has this app made the customer a raving fan? Average rating 4 stars. More negative ratings than I found on Viddy. Lots of comments about crashing the phone and other system type issues. One person said they are bailing for Viddy.

– Does this app provoke an impulse buy? If it does I couldn’t easily find it. I am sure they can/will incorporate in-app filter and music purchases.

– Does this app meet any of my needs? Yes in that it has no apparent video length limits, but it doesn’t solve the problem of people being unwilling or unable to create a good video that they must stage (e.g. someone cooking a mouthwatering Latin Fusion dish). Only picture can do this if the chef is either unattractive, unpolished or nervous in front of a camera.

– Did I become a raving fan after trying it? Interested but not raving.

– What does this app cost? Are there in-app purchases? Advertisements? Free and no apparent ads.

Animoto (Animoto, Inc.) This is the app to beat. There are a limited number of video slideshow apps in the App Store and this is by far the top app that actually creates a video (e.g. slideshow) from photos on an iPhone. The other much less user friendly app is FotoSlide.

– Why is this app successful? Easy to use, good user interface. Has most of the features you would want in an app like this: cool music selections from sponsored artists, cool image transition effects, quality backgrounds, ability to add captions and video clips, and lastly social sharing. NOTE: To create a video with more than 12 photos requires an in-app purchase (smart!). What it is missing is a way to add voice annotations and are “doodles” (e.g. basic drawing) on the photos themselves.

– What is its rank and has it been consistent? According to AppFigures #195 on Apr 26th. This year the high was 162 and the low 203, so by and large the app is remaining in the top 200 apps in the Photography category. (See below) App Figures Animoto

– Why do people want this app? 4.5 star average rating among 633 reviews. Numerous raving fans…lots of “I love it” reviews. I looked at the 3 and 4 star reviews to see what people did find wrong with the app. They mostly complained about the 12 pic limit. This of course is the in-app purchase, but I noticed some reviews complaining that the monthly subscription fees was too high. Full length video subscriptions cost $4.99 per month. Some people complained about uploading problems, password issues or not being able to view videos once upload to FB. Animoto has a popular internet application that does the same thing as their app. Some people complained that the iPhone app lacked many of the features found in the their internet app. However it appears the company has shored most of those up.

– Has this app made the customer a raving fan? Yes (see above).

– Does this app provoke an impulse buy? The 12 picture limit is fairly restrictive. I would love to know how many free users they convert to a paid plan.

– Does this app meet any of my needs? Yes – specifically if your goal is to turn your photos, video clips and music (NOTE: it’s their music – you can’t use music in your library) into good quality videos and share them. However if you are more interested in communicating about a photo or image, drawing circles around points of interests or adding voice annotations, this app does not do this. In the words of Michael Arrington of TechCrunch “We are unabashed fans of this do-one-thing-very-right service.”

– Did I become a raving fan after trying it? Yes

– How are they marketing to their customers? There screen shots, icon design, and descriptions are great. Furthermore there website and internet based product drives traffic to their app.

– What is the competitive advantage of this app? Best in class for creating videos from photos.

– What does this app cost? Are there in-app purchases? Advertisements? Free but limited to 12 pictures. Subscription service is $4.99 per month for unlimited pictures. Did not see other in-app purchase options. No ads.

2. Idea Alignment with Successful Apps (1.25 hours): I believe that StitchaVid can improve upon the functionality found in Animoto by focusing more on giving users the ability to add their own voice annotations and doodles. “Doodles” are simple drawings of lines or circles the user can add to the photos. This is especially useful if you are trying to create an instructional video. Animoto does a great job of creating great transitions from one photo to the next. Backgrounds and transitions appears to be their focus. The focus of this app is to give users more flexibility in the creation of their videos.

The basis for this theory about a market need for creating videos from photos comes from my experience with StoveTop Hero is a cooking video contest site. You can upload videos right on the site via our YouTube Direct API. What we found however is many people didn’t like to create “staged” videos. In other words, a video that is planned and choreographed. Some of the best video is spontaneous. Just look at Viddy for an example of that. But in the case of filming food preparation or any instructional video for that matter, the chef is effectively “on stage” and many people simply aren’t comfortable in front of a video camera knowing that they must perform.

StitchaVid would allow people to create a video from photos, music, voice annotations, doodles, text captions and video clips.

Analysis Between StitchaVid and Animoto:

a. Why are people purchasing Animoto? After reading many of the reviews it appears that most people love the app because its easy to use and allows people to create a compelling video quickly. The biggest complaint users had was not being able to use their own downloaded music in the videos.

b. Can I do something to emulate this idea and take it to another level? Yes – I would focus on voice annotations and a simple drawing capability.

c. What other ideas would this app’s demographic like? I could allow people to add music from their library but I am sure I would have to restrict them from being able to share those videos on YouTube and Facebook due to copyright concerns. Furthermore there’s are a lot of high quality indie and creative commons music out there. I could do a deal with 995Designs and license the “Band of the Day” music on their app or license Bonarro Radio music.

d. How many other similar apps are in the market? As per the above, the top app in this niche is Animoto. However you could take things to the next level by incorporating some of the innate social features found in Viddy and SocialCam.

e. How successful and consistent have they been? According to, Animoto stayed consistently above 150 in the Photography category since its inception.

f. How does their marketing and pricing model work? FREE app with a paid subscription to create videos with more than 12 pictures. No other in-app purchases or advertisements that I could find. StitchaVid could provide unlimited pictures for free and then offer in-app purchases. I could also have more of a social networking appeal like Viddy or SocialCam.

3. App Design (2.5 hours)

I was very impressed with Viddy’s home screen and I felt that StitchaVid could benefit from some of Viddy’s social network capabilities. So my app became a combination of the best of Viddy and Animoto with the additional key features of being able to voice annotate the pictures and to add Doodles. “Doodles” allow you to add graphical snippets like callouts (comments), text annotations, shapes and lines to your photo.

Here is the video I created of the StitchaVid. I used iMovie and Balsamiq Mockups. The background music was created by Kevin McCloud and used under Creative Commons license.

The video took me about 3-hours to complete. But it was my first iMovie video so the noob factor was really high. For an experienced iMovie user this video should have taken 1 to 1.5 hours to create.

That’s it. If you have any thoughts or advice for this app please leave comments…