me

Hi, I am Austin Birch, a software developer, design enthusiast and entrepreneur.

At the moment my focus is client-side & server-side JavaScript, though I write Ruby too, and I am currently learning functional programming with Clojure.

If you want to get in touch, or just want to talk, you can send me an email, or just say hello on twitter. I am also on GitHub and BitBucket.

Structuring a client-side JavaScript application

Deciding how to structure a client-side JavaScript application can be quite a challenge, as there are few popular conventions for doing so.

For the application that I am writing at my current startup, BottleCRM, I have come up with what I think is an interesting approach, considering our particular requirements and restrictions.

Read more...

Indie Game: The Movie

I finally got around to watching Indie Game: The Movie today, and it was very, very good. One of my favourite documentary films, along with Objectified and Helvetica.

At $9.99, it is an absolute steal. Get it here.

Gesture Based Interfaces

As much as gesture based interface feel like the future, I think that some care needs to be taken in making sure that gestures fit the context.

There has been a recent influx of apps, especially on the iOS platform, that require gestures to be used for nearly all interactions.

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chessable

chessable

To scratch an itch, I built chessable. chessable is a correspondence chess game with an uncluttered and responsive interface.

I created it a few weeks ago, as other similar services were cluttered with ads, and laden with extra features. I wanted something simpler to use.

Read more...

Jeremy Wade

There is no rule that states that inspirational people have to be working it the same field as you. I met somebody that is inspirational to me Jeremy Wade (Wikipedia).

He is somebody that both physically, and metaphorically, explores beneath the surface to discover what is really there.

I feel privileged to have met somebody that is so dedicated to their field, and that has such a brilliantly expansive domain knowledge.

jeremy_wade

Early Esc Spritesheet

As a little sneak preview of my upcoming iOS game, Esc, here is an early spritesheet (well, a section of) that might give a feel for the art direction of the game.

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flightnote Cards

This is a followup post to “Sometimes, Make Things”

The promotional/business card for flightnote have been printed. The final design is very similar to the paper-based mockups that I created before.

Here they are:

flightnote_cards

And to compare them to the paper-based mockups that I created:

flightnote_mock_cards

The final prints are exactly what I imagined they would be, and I couldn’t be more pleased. The printing company were effortlessly professsional, which made the whole printing experience painless.

I’ll be attaching some promotional codes to a few of these, and then sending them out very soon. I can’t wait!

Ludum Postmortem

Last weekend I took part, for the first time, in Ludum Dare, a competition in which you have 48 hours to create a game from scratch. I’ll be doing the next one too.

I don’t usually make games, but I enjoyed the challenge. As Rails 3.1 will use CoffeeScript by default, I thought it would be the perfect change to get to know it a bit better.

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Sometimes, Make Things

When designing things which are intended for print, it’s all too easy to sit in front of software and make endless adjustments, but never really knowing what the end product is going to be like as a physical object.

Sometimes, you should make things. For flightnote, I am creating some promotional ”Business Cards“ to give away. I wanted them to be a little different than the traditional rectangular ordeal, so I’ve been experimenting with a few different options.

Read more...

All Of The Lights Typography

There is some really great typography in this video. Be warned though — “This video has been identified by Epilepsy Action to potentially trigger seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy.”

The type comes in at about one minute.

Don’t Settle

Things that make you work smarter, are worth it. Don’t think any other way. If you can afford (sensibly) to purchase something that you think will make a real impact to the way you work, you owe it to yourself to do it.

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Take Some Time

I easily overwork. And I usually tell myself that it is not a bad thing. I read continuously that it is a bad habit, and still tell myself that working non-stop is fine. It is as though I think myself to be the exception to the rule. It has become clear however, that it is just unsustainable. I won’t be doing it again.

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Site Redesign

Updated 13/08/2011:
This no longer applies, as it relates to the previous blog’s design. Maybe I will write a new article about the current design later.

I have redesigned my blog to make it simpler, less decorated, and more purposeful. What follows is a break-down of the design decisions involved.

Read more...

flightnote

Enter flightnote, a web application, under development by me, for sharing your flying logbook.

When flightnote goes live, you will be able to keep an online backup of your flights, share media and notes from your flights, and keep up to date with your friends flights too. It is going to be great.

Read more...

drop_dead single-player

drop_dead is now a (virtually) complete single-player game!

drop_dead

There are ten levels to beat, each with a differing level of difficulty.

You should really give it a go here.

Let me know on twitter if you beat it, with an attached screenshot, & I will put you on the drop_dead page labelled as a cool person.

drop_dead: a bit more playable!

I have added a target height for the running player to reach, and added the ability for the AI player to be switched on and off.

The life system is also working, so it is more playable than it was — you can win & you can lose.

Find someone else, and play it here, then let me know what you think on twitter.

drop_dead update, again

drop_dead

Things I have added:

  • Added a very very simple AI that is brilliantly annoying as an opponent.
  • Simple life system & ability to restart when dead too, which is nice.

The AI will be removed when the multiplayer features are added but it is helpful not to have to try and control two players to test the game.

Check it out here, and let me know what you think here.

drop_dead update

drop_dead

The player can now fall of of blocks, using horrendously inefficient collision detection, but at least he does not hang about in the air indefinitely. I will rewrite all of the collision detection later, for now I just want to try and get on to WebSockets and adding a simple scoring system now!

Let me know what you think on twitter.

drop_dead

drop_dead

drop_dead is a multiplayer HTML5 Canvas/WebSockets experiment that I am playing with, in order to familiarise myself with those technologies. I will open-source it when I have got it to a point in which it is usable at all — and that should be soon. View Source if you are really too impatient for that.

I will try and keep an updated version available here, but it will be completely broken, and equally unfinished, at various points in time.

The basic concept of the game is this:

  • Players try to drop blocks on other players heads
  • If you are dropping blocks on runners, points for hitting them
  • If you are a runner, points for climbing on droppped blocks and reaching the top
  • Winners from both sides are players which have the most points

It is a bit of a combination of some currently popular ideas.

Try it out, and let me know what you think about it on twitter.

Flying with my Dad

I managed to the chance to take my Dad out for his first flight with me on the 26th of this month. It turned out to be a really good day, as the weather was perfect, though it was a little cold (below zero before leaving! I had to de-ice the aeroplane).

My Dad thoroughly enjoyed himself, and as the weather had postponed our numerous prior plans, he deserved the lovely weather.

Some photographs are below, and some more are on flickr.

Me & Dad Return Leg Shadow on the Wing