Build a productivity-boosting Pomodoro timer app at the next Tampa iOS Meetup

If you’ve always wanted to learn how to write mobile apps, but never knew how to get started, you should join Tampa iOS Meetup! It’s a beginner-friendly gathering of people who are either new to programming or new to iOS development that learns it by building an app at a time.

In this Tampa iOS Meetup, we’re going to build a Pomodoro timer app — a tool that used with the Pomodoro Technique, an ingeniously simple lifehack that many people have used to help them power past distraction, stay focused on their work, and be incredibly productive.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

Pomodoro is the Italian word for “tomato” and refers to the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that the technique’s inventor, Francesco Cirillo, used in developing the technique. The technique itself is pretty simple:

  • Pick a task that you want to tackle.
  • Set a timer for 25 minutes. Because Cirillo used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer, he called this 25-minute interval a “pomodoro”.
  • Work on the task — and nothing but that task — until the timer rings.
  • After the timer rings, put a checkmark on a piece of paper.
  • If you have fewer than four checkmarks, take a five-minute break, then start another pomodoro.
  • If you have four checkmarks, take a longer break — typically 15 to 30 minutes — and reset your checkmark count back to zero. Then start a new pomodoro.

By breaking a large task or series of tasks into short, focused intervals, the Pomodoro Technique aims to have your brain to work in short sprints — which it’s evolved to do — and take regular breaks to help it recharge. The intended result is to ensure consistent productivity, motivation, and creativity.

Want to know more about the Pomodoro technique? Check out this video…

…and these links:

What will we do at this meetup?

There are a number of Pomodoro apps out there, such Focus Keeper (pictured above). In this meetup, we’ll build one that you can then expand upon and maybe even put in the store!

You’ll learn how to:

  • Write code that is automatically at regularly-timed intervals
  • Get user input in the user-friendliest and appropriate way
  • Use sound and animations to make a polished-looking app

What will you need to bring?

If you’ve got a MacBook, you’ll want to bring it (make sure you’ve installed Xcode), because we’re going to code this app during the session! I’ll set you up with a starter project, and then write the actual code that powers it. By the end of the session, you’ll be able to write your own Pomodoro productivity app and tweak it to make it your very own.

(And yes, you can still come if you don’t bring a Mac laptop.)

Will there be food?

Yes! In addition to providing us with the space, the fine people at Wolters Kluwer (and their doubly-fine representative, John Wang) will provide food and drink for free. The food varies; sometimes it’s pizza, sometimes it’s pasta, sometimes it’s sandwiches. There’s usually a vegetarian option.

Let’s give Wolters Kluwer a golf clap for making the meetup possible!

When, where, and how do you register?

Current Events Tampa Bay Uncategorized

What’s happening in the Tampa Bay tech scene (Week of Monday, June 19, 2017)

Every week, I compile a list of events for developers, technologists, and tech entrepreneurs in and around the Tampa Bay area. We’ve got a lot of events going on this week, and here they are!

Monday, June 19

Tuesday, June 20

Wednesday, June 21

Thursday, June 22

Friday, June 23

Saturday, June 24

Sunday, June 25


What going back to an Objective-C project after working in Swift for a couple of years feels like 

“Oh yeah, pointers.”


In buying Whole Foods, Amazon just got 400+ upmarket showrooms and fulfillment centers

Pictured above: The Whole Foods in my neighborhood. Nice, isn’t it?

In what the press release calls “all-cash transaction valued at approximately $13.7 billion,” Amazon has acquired Whole Foods.

Whole Foods — its full name is Whole Foods Market, but more people call it “Whole Paycheck” because of their reputation for the premium prices they charge for items that you won’t easily find at your run-of-the-mill grocery store — will still operate under its own name, with its current CEO John Mackey, and out of their Austin, Texas headquarters.

What does Amazon get out of the deal? After conquering the market for online dry goods, they’ve set their eyes on the only kind of shopping that we do more often: groceries. They’ve been experimenting with grocery delivery service for years with AmazonFresh, which serves a few locations: the Seattle area, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Sacramento, London, Boston, Dallas, and Chicago. Acquiring Whole Foods instantly gives them a well-known, well-liked brand and over 400 “showrooms” located on prime real estate that are frequented by customers with more than the average amount of disposable income. In the longer run, Whole Foods locations can serve as fulfillment centers, and distribution or pick-up points for online grocery orders.

What does Whole Foods get out of the deal? According to this Recode article, being acquired alleviates a number of business headaches, such as the “activist investors” that Whole Foods CEO John Mackey calls “greedy bastards”, as well as “slow growth, shrinking profits and increasing competition from traditional grocers, meal-kit services like Blue Apron,” and — oddly enough — “e-commerce plays like Amazon.”

My favorite Tweet about the acquisition so far:


I’ll be presenting at Xamarin Dev Days in Tampa: Saturday, June 17!

Hey, Tampa Bay area developers! Want to meet up with your local developer community, learn cross-platform mobile development with Xamarin and cloud development with Azure, and maybe hear a rock and roll accordion number or two? Then you’ll want to come to the Tampa edition of Xamarin Dev Days this Saturday at the Tampa Bay Microsoft office in Rocky Point and get some free hands-on learning!

I’ll be there

I’ll be doing the first presentation of the day, Introduction to Xamarin, where I’ll walk you through its features, risk just a little live coding in building a cross-platform image search app, and give you a taste of Xamarin’s plugins, which let you go beyond write-once business logic and into write-once platform-specific features. You’ll be impressed by what you can do with Xamarin in your toolbelt.

When, where, how to register, and what you’ll need

It all happens on Saturday, June 17, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Microsoft Tampa Bay office at Rocky Point (5426 Bay Center Drive, 7th floor).

Go here to register. It’s free!

Here’s the full agenda:

When What
9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Registration
9:30 a.m. – 10:10 a.m. Introduction to Xamarin
Presented by Yours Truly
10:20 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Cross-Platform UI with Xamarin.Forms
Presented by Russ Fustino
11:10 a.m. – 11:50 a.m. Connected Apps with Azure
Presented by Greg Leonardo
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Lunch
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. The File → New App Workshop,
starring you, Xamarin, and the app you’ll build!


Food will be served, and there will be wifi. What you should bring is a laptop — Windows or Mac — that’s set up to do Xamarin development work. If you don’t already have Xamarin tools installed, head here to download Visual Studio Community (which is free) for either Windows or Mac.

If you’ve never built an app with Xamarin before, you might want to check out these quickstart tutorials:

I’ll see you there!




One of the best things about the new Microsoft is its meeting room stickers

If you go to a meeting room at a Microsoft office these days, you’ll quite likely see a sticker that talks about fixed mindset meetings and growth mindset meetings:

Click the image to see it at full size.

Here’s a closer look at that sticker:

Click the image to see it at full size.

Kudos to Microsoft for encouraging the growth mindset!

Also worth checking out: The difference between failing and being a failure.


A sneak preview of my experimental videogame résumé

I’m still looking for work, so I thought I’d show off my coding skills and improve on Robbie Leonardi’s high-concept interactive platform game-style resume by making a resume that was also an actual game. It’s still a work in progress, but I thought I’d show you a preview.

I used the Phaser game framework that I learned about this weekend and put together a quick, single-screen sample in a hour. The real version will show my entire résumé and be more extensive. If you’re viewing this page on a desktop or laptop computer (right now, it responds only to the arrow keys on a keyboard) you can try out the preview:


Use the ⬅️  and ➡️  keys to move and the ⬆️  key to jump.
This game currently works with desktop/laptop computers only;
mobile-friendly version coming soon!

More conventional ways to find out about me

I’m looking for my next great job! If you’re looking for someone with desktop, web, mobile, and IoT development skills who can also communicate to technical and non-technical audiences, or a marketer or evangelist who also has a technology background and can code, you should talk to me.