App of the Month 8: Journal 3

Today was a pretty productive day for this month because I accomplished a couple things critical to success. As a recap, this month I’m aiming to get a basic email version of the dining discovery service up and running. A few months ago I got a really simple MVP backend completed but there was no user facing aspect. That is slowly changing.

The first step in getting users was to first put up a email sign up website. However, I did that really quickly and it was hosted on my personal website which was less than ideal. So today, I addressed that by finding a couple domains which have okay names. These domains now host the same email sign up form but are not hosted at a domain with my name in the URL. I’ll include those a little later in this post, promise.

The next step was to actually get an email sent. I’m about a third of the way there. Today my goal was to get a simple template put together that would have the basic format and description of necessary information. It is really simple and will not win any awards right now, but that isn’t the point currently. My objective was to get one made and I did that, so success!

So without further ado, you can now sign up at www.restaurantsaround.town and www.restaurantsaround.me for information and to join the beta program!

My next step will be to setup a proper outbound email system so that I can easily deliver these emails. That is gonna be even more trickery with learning to be a sysadmin …

App of the Month 8: Journal 2

Last week I mentioned that I was going to work on producing an email product for this month to test my theory about the restaurant discovery service. I am still aiming to do that. To that end I’ve put together a simple sign up form that lets people opt-in to receiving information about the service as it nears testing and to become an early tester. You can find that form at www.andrewmonshizadeh.com/restaurantour

Yes, I am currently considering the name RestauranTour. Unfortunately that .com is not available so this likely won’t stick. There are a couple other options I’m tossing around but none are as clever as this.

If you sign up I promise there will be no spam and you will not be inundated with emails. While the end goal of this service would be presenting users with new dining destinations every day that isn’t really feasible as a one man shop just getting started. Not to mention I will be limiting the recommendation to something I know. Finally, part of this will be working on the automated aspect of generating these emails. I know nothing about this so it will be interesting working through these issues; probably lots of trial and error. Yay!

App of the Month 8: Journal 1

After a successful project last month + 5 days, I figured I would keep the ball rolling this month. However, this time I’m going to not do an iOS app. This month will again be tied to my restaurant discovery project from a couple months ago. At that time I said the project would span just two months which seemed reasonable. Things change though, so let me quickly recap the objective and revise my outlook for the work involved.

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App of the Month 7: Journal 1?

I did a much worse job last month with journaling my progress on the app of the month. Turns out that I’m just out of the habit of writing which I need to fix. But this isn’t that blog. This is the blog where I talk about what I did and lead into what I’m going to work on.

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We’ve Moved

Yeah, that is true. We have successfully moved across the country. Many times, people will use that figuratively. We said that figuratively when we moved from Chicago to the San Francisco Bay. This time though, it is literal: we moved from San Francisco Bay to New York City. That is about as across the country as you can get, only a few would be further.

Why would we do this? What madness had taken control of our minds that this move would seem like the right thing to do? Good questions with incomplete answers. We did this because it was an amazing opportunity career-wise for me. I was given the opportunity to take ownership of a project I had been working on and to become a part of a critical infrastructure team within Instagram. The best part of being on this team is that I will be learning from some of the company’s most experienced and impactful engineers. I know that I will grow an immense amount from being on this team even if only by osmosis. The other reason for doing this is that the company was again paying for us to move. Facebook is unbelievably generous to its employees and make moving from one office to another as needed. With 90% of the moving type stresses removed from the process, it is much more exciting and reasonable to change locations.

However, this was definitely not in the original plan. When the wife and I moved to Chicago in 2012 we had done a good amount of discussing whether we would want to live in such a big city. At the time we figured that was as big as we wanted to go, and it was good that it was still relatively near family. And explicitly, we had agreed definitely never New York City. Then we fell in love with the city. And then we moved to the Bay. And we loved all the outdoorsy stuff we could do in the Bay. But, we never really fell in love with the where we were living there. It was too pedestrian and suburban. Interestingly, when we were visiting New York for the first time (we decided to move here before either of us had even visited the city once), we independently felt much more at home as we took a cab into Manhattan than we did in Mountain View.

All of that is to say, I didn’t do an app this month. We start our new lease tomorrow, so hopefully August will be the month I get back into the swing of things. I may not do a large project though because we have a lot of moving in to do. We sold a large amount of furniture when we moved and now we need to replace some of that which will take time making decisions. So yeah, I will only take on a simple project this month. Starting on the first I’m gonna jump to it.

App of the Month 6: Journal 1

Bad news, this month it isn’t gonna happen. Again.

But! There is a good reason! Well a couple, but one is bigger than the others. That reason is we are moving to NYC at the end of this month. 🙂 At the time of writing, it is actually just 12 days away. Because of this big change in plans, my app project has been derailed. I feel this is an acceptable reason for the app to be postponed. And next month may be the same because of the need to settle in and find a place to live. But we will see.

Anyhow, for this month I was planning on building the iOS side of the restaurant suggestion service. I was going to try and write it in react native. But that will just have to wait.

App of the Month 5: Journal 2

Quick update on what I have accomplished this month, with heavy emphasis on the “quick”.

As I mentioned in the previous blog post, this month’s project is the backend service for my upcoming mobile app/service. The goal of the app/service is to make deciding on a restaurant for dinner much easier.

At this point I would consider this month a success. I have written essentially the minimum viable product (MVP) for the server. The server is able to create new users, request info about a user, generate suggestions for a user, and mark a given suggestion as used. Further, when generating suggestions, the server will not return the same suggestion again.

These features are all that is necessary for the mobile app to be written and proven out. However, there are some obvious missing bits that would eventually need to be fleshed out. For example, there is no real personalization going on, just raw suggestions for restaurants located near where the user has set his/her address. Further, there will need to be an automated job to properly mark a restaurant as suggestible again, since the service can’t only suggest a place once ever. Unless you live in a city like NYC there is going to be a need to have a replenishing pool of restaurants to suggest.

I look forward to showing everyone the mobile app in the coming month!

App of the Month 5: Journal 1

Hey, so this is the second blog entry of this month. That is pretty good compared to the past. But, still just the first for this project. Which is of course pretty sad. No matter now, gotta keep moving!

This month I’m gonna kind of bend the rules I set out at the first of the year. How? Well, this project is going to be a two month project. The catch though is that in this first month I’m going to do the server side of the project this month and next month will be the mobile app. This made the most sense for a few reasons. One reason is that this is the most ambitious project I’ve taken on yet, which I’ll cover in a little bit. The other, and probably most important, is this month was pretty crazy in various ways, like visiting NYC for two full weeks.

At this point, you dear reader probably are really anxious to know the project. Fear not for I will reveal that now, kind of: an app/service to help the user find a good place to eat.

Yeah. That is pretty broad. To be more specific, the objective is to solve the problem of too many choices when looking for a place to have dinner in a large city. I have numerous times found myself in the position of not having dinner plans, then when the wife and I try to pick a restaurant to try we become paralyzed with all of the options. This app/service will provide a limited number of options to the user making the decision easier.

Of course this can’t be completely random so there will need to be some secret sauce in picking the suggestions. What will those be? Honestly I’m not entirely sure. I would love proposals on which to base dining location suggestions. Please leave me those proposals in the comments or on Twitter.