After many, many years, my old hosting company shutdown, so I’m taking the opportunity to clean things up a bit on wubbahed.com and get some of the cruft out. So pardon the broken links and messy things, they should be cleaned up in the next weeks.
My current work focuses on creating software that improves the home cooking experience. Over the past two years, I’ve worked with food writer Michael Ruhlman, and together we’ve started simple and small and released two products. First was Ratio, a digital companion to his book Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking. The second, released earlier this year, was Bread Baking Basics, an iPad app that lets you design your own bread recipe — choose a flour, shape, pan, and quantity — and a custom bread recipe is automatically created for you.
What sets the Bread app apart from most other cooking apps is that we’ve used technology to re-think the notion of a recipe.
Most recipes are static lists of ingredients and instructions. They can help you make one really yummy dish, but that’s it. If you want to double a recipe, you have to do the math yourself. If you have to make a substitution then you have to find that information elsewhere and incorporate it yourself. And if you’re trying to make dinner from three separate recipes, good luck trying to organize all those steps into one coherent plan of action.
I would never expect a cookbook on my shelf to do any of those things for me. But an iPad? A laptop? A smartphone? Oh, yes. I want it to double quantities and make substitutions based on my dietary needs. I want it to merge three different recipes into one step-by-step plan. I want it to recommend new dishes based on what I like. I want it to plan out my meals for the week using only things on sale and in season. I want every recipe to have a button that says “Buy ingredients from local farms,” and then have it suggest more recipes based on the leftovers. I want it to show me a three course meal that my friends would love and then give me the option to invite them over.
Okay, so Bread Baking Basics doesn’t exactly do all of those things… yet. Those features could be built, but to that I need data. Data about food prices. Data about inventory from local farms. Data about delivery times. Data about food products and their ingredients. Data about expiration dates.
But once that data can be brought into our software, then there’s no longer a need to hack the existing food system. Instead, we will have just created a new one. A new food system that uses data and technology to allow farmers and individuals to buy directly, and will be rooted in products that put the consumer first and make it insanely easy to cook and eat local, sustainable or organic foods.
Accomplishing this will be hard. Very hard. Farm work hard. But not impossible.
Who’s up for it?
This post originally appeared on FoodAndTechConnect.com
They’ve launched the latest version of NYCBigApps, called NYC BigApps Ideas, and this one is beautiful in it’s simplicity — all you have to do is write your idea for an app in 140 characters or less. That’s it! The top 25 ideas will be voted on by a group of judges and some of the winning apps might actually be made.
I’ve got a ton of ideas, but here are a few that I entered. If you like them, it would be awesome if you could vote for them on the site!
- An app that has a visual, color coded map of all street parking rules, regulations and street cleaning schedules.
- An app that allows me to instantly log a noise complaint with the city based on my current location.
- An app that shows what NYC looked like in 1940. It would be powered by the 1939-41 Tax Photographs taken of all five boroughs.
- An app that makes sense of NYC schools for parents — locations, when to apply, report cards, class size, waiting lists and specialized curriculums.
- An app that allows kids to voice their opinion with the city on political issues and local matters.
Got an idea? Submit it!
If you want to hear an audio version of the SXSW talk, here ya go (it’s an hour long) :
Or download the mp3 directly for on-the-go listening.
Here’s the first demo of a very cool shirt that’s connected to an app on my Android device (source code and plans will be released soon!).
If you’re in Austin at SXSW Interactive next month, be sure to check this talk that Chloe Gottleib and I are doing together. Trust me, it will be fun.
Bread Baking Basics is a tool and kitchen companion that allows you to custom configure your own bread recipes. Choose the type of flour, the shape of bread, and the amount of bread you want to make, and the app creates a custom tailored recipe to suit your needs — including full size color photographs depicting each step of the process. English or metric? Weight or volume? By hand or with a mixer? Who cares, we support all of these options.
If you want to read more about the details of the app, then check out the official Bread Baking Basics page on Michael Ruhlman’s site.
I’ve proposed a talk for SXSW Interactive next March called “Stop Talking, Start Making,” and I would love it you could visit the SXSW PanelPicker and vote for my presentation (along with all the other sessions that interest you). SXSW is unique from other conferences in that the popular vote heavily influences their selection, so your voice definitely counts!
“Stop Talking, Start Making” is about the importance of rolling up your sleeves very early in the creative process, and spending 24 hours getting your hands dirty building something. You can’t just sketch something out or put together a few slides in a PowerPoint presentation, you’ve got to build and demonstrate a working product.
But this presentation isn’t for developers — it’s for creative types, marketers and brand owners. You’ll learn ways you can incorporate the hackathon model into your creative development process—to rethink a brand, quickly build ideas from scratch, and to incorporate new and emerging technologies into an existing brand.
You’ll also learn how the hackathon can be an invaluable tool for evaluating and nurturing internal talent, as well as for recruiting new talent.
Most importantly, it will be fun and entertaining. I promise.
The Challenge: Build and release an app that required less than 12 hours of work.
The Result: NYC Subway Status for Android
I’ve been beating the drum lately on the need to build things very quickly. I’ve found that despite loads of thinking and planning, often you don’t discover most of the real problems with your idea until you’re knee deep in development. Building something in a brief time period is meant to short circuit the process and avoid analysis paralysis.
Working this way, though, can be very stressful. You’re having to cut corners, to make compromises, and to eliminate functionality in order to meet your deadline. However, working like this also forces you to simplify your ideas and focus on the core user experience which can lead to a simpler, more refined final product. Sometimes it’s better to do one feature well than to cram in three or four features.
The result of this latest personal challenge is the NYC Subway Status app for Android. It was built in a few hours and does one thing very well — tells you if the NYC Subway lines are running smoothly, encountering delays, or scheduling maintenance. Here are some screenshots of the app in action.
You can install the app for free just by searching on the Android Market. Alternatively, you can scan in this barcode on your phone.
UPDATE: Version 1.0.3 now released!