How to Feel Real App Appeal with Garrett Murray (Episode 87)

Garrett Murray is the founder and creative director of Karbon, an app-development firm. But software isn't his whole life; he also happens to be an award-winning filmmaker. His firm developed the apps Scratch, a quick-input notepad for iPhone, and Ego, for tracking all your Web status in a single glance. Actor Tom Hanks just singled out the app Karbon designed and built for Uncrate as one of his two favorites apps. We'll talk about the windy road to app nirvana.

Sponsors and patrons

This podcast is made possible through the support of sponsors and patrons.

99designs: Have dozens of designers from the over 310,000 that are part of 99designs's network submit ideas for your logo, Web site, T-shirt, car wrap, or other design project, then pick the best and have a finished, professional result in a week or less for a flat price. Our listeners can visit this special destination page to get $99 Power Pack of services for free!

Thanks also to our Patreon backers for supporting us directly through Patreon! You can help keep this podcast going for as little as $1 per month. At higher levels, we'll thank you on the air and send you mugs and T-shirts!

Threes A Magic Number with Greg Wohlwend (Episode 74)

Greg Wohlwend developed the popular game Threes with his colleague Asher Vollmer. Greg is a games illustrator and designer who was part of teams that made Hundreds, Gasketball, Solipskier, and Ridiculous Fishing. Threes is his breakout game — and has inspired lots of admiration, frustration, and imitation. He and I talk in this episode about the joy of success, the burden of being independent, and the problems with parasites.

Sponsors & Patrons

This podcast is made possible through the support of sponsors and patrons. Thanks to patrons George O'Toole, Jonathan Mann, and Sean Wickett for supporting us directly through Patreon! You can back this podcast for as little as $1 per month. At higher levels, we'll thank you on the air and send you mugs and T-shirts!

If you'd like to sponsor this podcast and reach our fine listeners, please contact The Midroll for details.

Show Notes

The Oatmeal's Matthew Inman was nominated for two 2014 Eisner Awards. Greg wrote this post to the hobbyist on the ledge. Greg designed the logo for Indie Game: The Movie; the creators of that film are two-time guests on the show, first in December 2012, and then a year later for a check in.

The money in Minecraft is in YouTube videos of people playing through levels. We ran a story about this in The Magazine. The Scratch programming language leads to the Pencil programming language which led to JavaScript for my older son. CoderDojo uses Scratch to mentor kids in programming.

Max Temkin baited a Los Angeles Times reporter who wrote an uninformed piece about the Threes ripoff 2048. The extended account of Threes development reveals the exhaustive and useful process of iteration, testing, and killing one's darlings.

The Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast had a very nice discussion at the end of an episode where one panelist recommend 2048, and another explained kindly that Threes was the original and the thing to which one graduates as it's tougher. (Listen around minute 37.)

Greg recommends the Indomie brand of ramen.

Community Supported Appliculture with Henry Smith (Episode 72)

Henry Smith is a games app developer, and the evil genius behind the addictive multi-player app Spaceteam. Spaceteam won oodles of awards, and it has the added benefit (or problem) of being free. Henry has an active Kickstarter to fund future development of free work over the next year.

Sponsors & Patrons

This podcast is made possible through the support of sponsors and patrons.

New Relic helps everyone's software work better, and if you’re in any business today, you’re in the software business. New Relic monitors every move your application makes, across the entire stack, and shows you what's happening right now. Visit to find out more.

MailRoute filters your mail, quarantines any suspicious mail offsite, and delivers only clean mail to your mailboxes. With one simple click, your domain, mail server and other precious resources are protected. For 10% off the lifetime of your account, and a free 15-day trial, visit!


Thanks to patrons Andy Baio, Jonathan Mann, and Abraham Finberg for supporting us directly through Patreon! You can back this podcast for as little as $1 per month. At higher levels, we'll thank you on the air and send you mugs and T-shirts.

Show notes

Watch for an upcoming interview with Greg Wohlwend, the developer of the app Threes.

Henry shares details openly about Spaceteam's downloads and revenue. He wrote a post summing up all the money that's come in, including commissions and prize winnings. Henry's Spaceteam Manifesto is a more formal expression than this podcast of a lot of the principles driving him.

Greg Knauss talked about exiting a long-time job, some of the paralysis that followed, the fear and reality of failure, and finding a path forward in "Falling Upward" (Episode 63).

Failing Upward with Greg Knauss (Episode 63)

Photo: Adam Mathes

Photo: Adam Mathes

Greg Knauss is an independent software developer who created Romantimatic, a reminder program for absent-minded sweethearts. You may know him from the early 2000s: from and Metababy and Rainy Day Fun and Games for Toddler and Total Bastard, a collection of stories he promoted on what was arguably the first digital book tour. Then for a decade he toiled behind the scenes until he went out on his own. We'll talk today about his expectations, the reality, and fear of failing--and of succeeding!

Sponsors & Patrons

This podcast is made possible through the support of sponsors and patrons.

Media Temple: Web hosting for artists, designers, and Web developers since 1998. Media Temple hosts beautiful websites and great ideas. Use code "tnd" to get 25% off your first month. Over 2,000 high-quality and engaging video courses taught by industry experts — with new courses added daily. Listeners get a free 7-day trial with full access to all content by visiting and signing up.


Vimeo: If you upload a lot of videos, Vimeo Plus and Vimeo PRO let you add 20 GB a week with no ads slapped on top. Get 10% off with the code DISRUPT. (Expires 4/30/2014. Renewals are at full price.) BackersHub is a daily deals Web site that rewards people who have backed previously successfully Kickstarter campaigns with exclusive discounts.


Thanks to Bob Owen and Abraham Finberg for supporting us directly through Patreon! You can back this podcast for as little as $1 per month. At higher levels, we'll thank you on the air and send you mugs and T-shirts. Help us toward our goal of $1,000 per month of Patreon sponsorship and we'll make transcripts available for every new episode!

Show Notes

Greg and I are both so old we remember seeing the launch of Mosaic (in different forms), the very first widely distributed graphical-user interface Web browser. Marc Andreessen and his colleagues at NCSA didn't invent the Web, but they made it accessible.

Ted Nelson gets credit for creating the notion of hypertext, which he always envisioned as two-way links! The original Netscape browser let you edit pages directly. Everpix (the site that I couldn't recall) had to shut down, despite being beloved, because the revenue didn't match up with the cost of providing service.

Kevin Kelly and I discussed 1,000 true fans, distributed collaboration, and his book Cool Tools last week. Greg's essay, "Talking about Failure," covers some of the ground we discuss in this episode. Cabel Sasser's talk about coping with panic at his firm, Panic, when things started heading a direction he didn't want to walk down—and how he got through it. Also watch Christina Xu and Jack Conte talk about similar pressures and outcomes.

A lot of interesting thoughts came out of XOXO 2013. Frank Chimero wrote of "The Inferno of Independence." Leah Reich discussed the value of critique in "The Uncanny Valley of Earnestness."

Romantimatic was given a hard time by Elle, but Mashable was much more fair. Greg was also interviewed by CBC about the app.

Backerkit to the Future with Maxwell Salzberg (Episode 60)


Maxwell Salzberg of Backerkit knows what it's like to have a lot of people giving him money who want something in return: he and three colleagues created the Diaspora project, one of Kickstarter's early blockbusters. He co-founded BackerKit with Rosanna Yau to help people with the problem of managing crowdfunding backers' responses and expectations.

Sponsors & Patrons

This podcast is made possible through the support of sponsors and patrons.

This episode is sponsored by Media Temple: Web hosting for artists, designers, and Web developers since 1998. World-class support available 24x7 through phone and chat—and even Twitter. Media Temple hosts beautiful websites and great ideas. Sign up with coupon code "tnd" to get 25% off your first month of hosting.

We're also sponsored by Born SQL, who can help small- and medium-sized businesses who use Microsoft SQL Server without a dedicated database administrator. New Disruptors' listeners can get a Cdn$750 discount on Born SQL's analysis report, which examines your instances and provides extensive, implementable recommendations about making improvements.

Media Temple: Web hosting for artists, designers, and Web developers since 1998. Use code "tnd" to get 25% off your first month.

Born SQL helps businesses who use Microsoft SQL Server get the most out of their databases! Get Cdn$750 off a detailed report!


And thanks to our patrons, supporting us by making a monthly pledge via Patreon. You can pledge as little as $1 a month; at higher levels, get our on-air and Web site thanks, T-shirts, and more! Thanks this time to Abraham Finberg and GravityFish! You help make it all happen.

Show notes

BackerKit has a blog that details its progress. Diaspora is now part of the Free Software Support Network, its non-profit sponsor. All the projects' intellectual property and code are under this community umbrella.

Rich Stevens' Diesel Sweeties Kickstarter, intended to create a book of his work, included a reward bump to a USB drive in the form of one of his famous characters, Red Robot #C-63. This wound up being a huge bear to fulfill as he duplicated untold hundreds of robots himself.

Scott Rosenberg's book, Dreaming in Code, details the irreducibility of software projects to a predictable scope of time and effort. It's a fun read, too.

Kickstarter's 2013 report says the site had $480 million in pledges. About 85 percent of those are for successful projects, so that means about $410 million collected (of which it keeps 5 percent, or roughly $20 million).

Horace Dediu, an analyst, funded making transcripts of a year of his podcasts. He set out for $3,000 and raised over $29,000. However, the cost and effort of doing nearly 10 times as many books was only modestly higher overall because it was a matter of more printing and electronic distribution as opposed to increasing the project's complexity.

Filmmakers producing a movie about Dr. Demento had a crazily large grid of add-on items for their Kickstarter, but it was effective because Dr. D. fans like their merchandise. (I interviewed the director in October 2013.)

An application programming interface (API) is essentially a toolkit for software developers to "talk" to a system in a standardized way that doesn't require they get into the guts or have special access. If Kickstarter creates a survey API, BackerKit and others could build tools of their own that send queries and interact with Kickstarter without Kickstarter having to build out all the services that would benefit from exposing data to campaign managers.

There's a growing ecosystem of companies that complement crowdfunding sites or are alternatives to them. Crowdtilt offers crowdfunding for things as simple as splitting the cost of a meal or funding school projects. Crowd Supply vets products for feasibility, helps connect projects to manufacturers and a supply chain, and releases money partly based on completion targets. is an outlet for designers who funded projects via Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and other sites, and now need a way to sell their goods without handling orders themselves. Make That Thing! is a spinoff of TopatoCo (a merchandise house for webcomics artists and others) that runs crowdfunding campaigns for creators from conception to fulfillment; it's still in closed beta.

Girls Just Want To Code Apps with Jean MacDonald (Episode 52)


Jean MacDonald was formerly best known for her role as a software marketing and public-relations guru for a major Macintosh software developer, but her work to create App Camp for Girls has eclipsed that. Jean and her colleagues raised over $100,000 on Indiegogo to fund an initial two sessions of a week each in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, and the next step is national. Jean talks about the particular challenges of bootstrapping a non-profit from zero through crowdfunding, and the group's efforts in navigating their way to the next steps.

Sponsors & Patrons

This podcast is made possible through the support of sponsors and patrons. Thanks to Stack for sponsoring this episode! Stack sends you a different magazine every month, selecting from among the best English-language publications in the world. With coupon code DISRUPT13, 3 months is $45 (normally $50), and a full year is just $170 (normally $190)!

Stack: The world’s best independent magazines directly to your door every month


And thanks to our patrons, supporting us by pledging an amount via Patreon for each episode we produce. Thanks this time to GravityFish and Elliott Payne! You help make it all happen.

Show notes

Jean is a principal at Smile Software, makers of PDFPen Pro and other Mac and iOS products, which has been a past and is a future sponsor of this podcast. But we're just talking in this episode about her non-profit work.

Jean's main partners in this endeavor are Kelly Guimont and Natalie Osten. Christa Mrgan, who participated in teaching at the camp, designed The New Disruptors logo and has written and illustrated for The Magazine.

WWDC is Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference for Mac OS X and iOS programmers. Jean was inspired by Rock ’n’ Roll Camp for Girls.

While App Camp works its way towards independent nonprofit status, it's under the fiscal sponsorship of TechStart Educational Foundation. The 99% Invisible podcast is under the auspices of a non-profit, PRX. TechStart had already performed this function for ChickTech.

Jean discovered that if you need bulk snacks, go to Costco.

If you didn't follow our discussion about how Kickstarter processes payments: Amazon Payments handles charging credit cards. When you sign up at Amazon, you agree to give 5% to Kickstarter. Amazon then processes the charges on your behalf, as if you had done them. It then releases that money to you or your company and sends you a 1099-K, which for American taxpayers is also reported to the IRS (if above $20,000 or 200 transactions in a calendar year). It is like a bunch of charges, not a single monolithic amount.

Matthew Inman, the cartoonist behind The Oatmeal, raised over $220,000 for charity to spite a firm that threatened Inman over a strip he did critiquing the firm for using his cartoons on its site without permission.

After video circulated of a schoolbus monitor being ridiculed by teenagers on the bus on which she worked, someone started an Indiegogo campaign to buy her a nice vacation. Instead, over $700,000 was raised for her on Indiegogo. She started a group called Karen Klein Anti-Bullying Foundation with some of the money.

Colleen Wainwright said for her 50th birthday, she'd shave her head if she raised $50,000 for WriteGirl, a writing program aimed at girls in Los Angeles. She called it 50 for 50. She shaved her head.

Registering as a non-profit with a state government in America doesn't confer federal tax-exempt status. Many organizations are seemingly confused about this. A separate filing with the IRS is required and the tax agency has to approve it; it's not a rubber stamp.

Dean Putney, a previous guest (Episode 48) on this show, raised over $110,000 to print a version of an album of photos his great-grandfather had taken before and during World War I in Germany, including shots from the trenches. Dean just got advance copies, and he's now accepting pre-orders for post-Kickstarter fulfillment in a few weeks.

The percentage of women obtaining degrees in computer science and engineering fields has dropped substantially since the 1980s, when the ratio was at its peak. While the number of degrees on those fields has ebbed and fallen in that period, the ratio has steadily shifted toward men.

Xcode is Apple's programming and development environment for Mac OS X and iOS apps. Summer camp costs about $250 to $300 a week in the Northwest.

The New Yorker wrote a piece specifically about App Camp for Girls this summer. The New York Times has recently run two articles about the topic of getting girls and women into programming; in August about Girls Who Code and other programs, and in October, a piece about creating media role models.

"Computers" were historically women working at calculating machines. The field shifted to men when the pay rose, true in many fields still today.

Slow Fast Slow from Studio Neat

Our friends at Studio Neat have just released their latest thing: an app for shooting in slow-motion at 60 frames per second (fps) on an iPhone 5/5c or fifth-generation iPod touch and 120 fps on the iPhone 5s. While SloMo at 120 fps is a mode on the iPhone 5s, it doesn't offer much control nor does it adjust pitch to normal. Slow Fast Slow can also reduce speed to 1/8th normal, twice as slow (or is it half as fast?) as the iPhone 5s SloMo mode. It's a buck-ninety-nine.

Episode 23: Give Me Something to Read with Marco Arment (Part 2)

Click above to listen in your browser or download the podcast directly (MP3, 29 MB, 60 minutes). Subscribe to the show's podcast feed to get every episode automatically.

 Marco Arment helped bring Tumblr into existence, founded Instapaper and The Magazine, co-hosted the podcast Build & Analyze, created the Neutral podcast with Casey Liss and John Siracsua and from that with those two also started the Accidental Tech Podcast. He has a lot going on, but less than when we recorded this two-part podcast weeks ago. (This is part 2.)

Marco and I spoke just a few days before he finalized a deal to sell the majority interest in Instapaper, and, in fact, I had no idea it was about to go down, as Marco was finalizing the sale. Go back and listen to  Episode #20: So Successful That He Fired Himself (part 1) for how Tumblr and Instapaper grew.

In part 2, we talk about Marco's podcasts, The Magazine, blogging, advertising, and related topics.

On Twitter, Marco Arment, Accidental Tech Podcast, The Magazine.

Show Notes

We mentioned a number of audio tools. At the high end, you find Pro Tools (with which this show is edited) and Logic. Less expensive options include Garageband (included with Macs and purchasable as an update), Audacity (free, and available for many platforms), and Amadeus Pro ($60 for Mac OS X).

Instapaper has a regularly updated set of recommended articles to read called The Feature that was formerly called Give Me Something to Read. The Pulse app was pulled temporarily in 2010 from the App Store due to a complaint by the New York Times about use of trademarks.

We talked about the issue of viewing ads on a page before saving the content to read later. Instapaper once had a bypass option. Pocket also used to offer something like this, but its current browser extensions save the active, viewable page or all open tabs (that have already loaded the pages).

Both Marco and I are big fans of the Çingleton conference, at which we both spoke in its 2012 version; Guy English, one of its organizers; and Paul Kafasis, head of Rogue Amoeba, which makes great audio software.

Marco faces plagues of trolls, especially at Hacker News, where there is a peculiar amount of anger at him for his blunt statements about software and hardware that people seem to take awfully personally. Marco's essay on "Anti-Apple Anger" explains why people get mad when you make something great that they can't get everything they want from. Jamelle Bouie's "And Read All Over" appeared first in The Magazine, but generated the most interest a month later when he posted it on his own site.