Taming Monkey Number One – First Update

I think it’s time to see how I did so far with my first monkey. For those of you who doesn’t know yet, I ditched my New Year resolutions and replaced them with a different approach: taming monkeys. Very shortly put, a monkey is an underdeveloped part of yourself, a goal frozen in its evolution, an internal form that mimics a human being but never gets the chance to really become one. If you want to know more about this whole weird thing, you can go ahead an read the introductory post and also the post in which I explain how to find your inner monkey.

Monkey Number One: A New App In The App Store

Ok, I already let you know that in the first month I just want to have a new app in the AppStore. It’s not just an app, it’s one that it’s been floating around in my universe for some time now, and, somehow, never made it to my focus. Without revealing too much about the scope of the app, and thus, spoiling your surprise, I will briefly give you an idea about what the app is supposed to do.

  • It will have a local pre-filled database.
  • It will save the data locally on the iPad (yes, it will be primarily an iPad app, will see later on if I’d make an iPhone version too).
  • It will also give the user the chance to save the data remotely, making it public.
  • It will also allow the user to use social media services, like Twitter or Facebook, for a variety of operations.

The reason I gave these details is because they’ll have an impact on the overall taming process. It’s a relatively complicated app and it requires at least an extra level of complexity given the fact that it will need to save data remotely, outside of the device.

Taming Status

Until now, I worked 7 days on the taming. The rest of the time I was doing regular stuff like writing on my blog, consulting, interacting on social media (if we’re talking about what I consider work) and I also managed to have a real life. Quite a full one. Two week-ends ago I went with my daughter at a friend house, in the mountains. One evening, I accepted an invitation to theater from somebody in my social network. I think I already told you that I do try to bring as much as I can in the real life from my digital life.

So I got pretty busy. But I did manage to do the following:

  • bought the domain name
  • configured a web site and a PHP framework for that domain name
  • made the basic wireframe (pretty much a mind map)
  • finished the local pre-filled database, all the required info is in the app
  • created the database model on the iPad (I’ll use Core Data for storage)
  • started to work on the basic database features on the device. Which means right now I can add and retrieve real data using the app interface. Not all the needed data is processed yet, but the most important parts of it are taken care of

It’s not much, but, at the same time, it’s a lot. I don’t know if this makes sense to you, but to me it’s something really different. It may look like it’s just a stub, but that stub it’s real. Until just two weeks ago, everything was just an idea. At most, it was a nice topic in a “iOS related” conversation. Something like “what would you say about and app that will do this and that?”. Pretty fancy during the conversation, but completely vaporware.

So I guess right now I have a little bit more than nothing. Which is good. Anything more than nothing is good.

Taming Challenges

The biggest challenge so far it’s finding time for this. For some reason, it seems that my day is shortening at a very fast pace. I do suspect there are few tiny midgets that took over my watches. Every time I don’t look, they’re feeding themselves with my minutes. Otherwise I really couldn’t explain where my time flies. I feel really, really short on time.

Perhaps that goal of “still having a life while doing this” it’s starting to manifest too. That would be an explanation. I do want to still have a life, to enjoy my time with my children and friends, to relax, to exercise, you know, what normal people are doing. Obviously this is taking important chunks of time from my regular work routine. Fact is I’m finding extra time for this taming task really, really hard. I guess that’s the reason I worked only 7 days out of 17 so far.

Another interesting challenge is to keep the idea flow steady and the app features “clean”. The moment I start writing some code, it’s like opening a high pressure water hose. New ideas are starting to emerge in minutes and I want to add this feature, and also this feature, and, of course, you gotta have this feature too. I know I can’t add them all. It’s not possible. Taming this monkey will require to have a MDP (minimum demo product) in the store. An MDP is something good enough to prove your model but without all the bells and whistles you want to put on it.

What seems to help me so far in keeping this under a certain control it’s my Assess – Decide – Do methodology. Every time I have an idea I stop, fire up my iAdd app on the iPad, add the idea, and then get back. I keep all new  blurbs into a separated collection.

Next Steps

The first and most important step would be to sustainably create more chunks of time each day. As I can’t really get rid of any of my daily activities (including blogging, consulting, and, of course, having a life) the only solution would be to wake up early each morning. I am already a huge fan of becoming an early riser but I admit I didn’t do it very often, especially during the holidays. I wake up every morning around 7 AM and I can get along quite ok with this.

But getting at least two more hours every day will require to wake up at 5 AM each day, including week-ends. I still have 14 days to finish this. That will give me around 28 hours of work. I think it can be done in 28 hours. But I have to get those 28 hours first. So, waking up at 5 Am each day.

Another important step would be to exercise more. Nothing heavy, maybe some running or pushups. From my previous experience it’s very important to balance the brain strain with physical exercise. I can do it without it, but it seems that the least annoying consequence of this would be a low emotional vibe. Every time I had intense brain workouts without balancing them with some physical workouts too, I had strong feelings of pressure. You know, like sadness, lack of motivation and alike. Not good. But exercising helps releasing endorphins. And endorphins are good.

Side Benefits

The main benefit would be to tame the monkey, of course. To finish the idea. To have the app in the AppStore. But there already some side benefits. To be honest, I didn’t see them coming.

First one is that I feel more enthusiastic (and I want to remain like this, hence my intention to balance this extra effort with some daily workouts). The feeling of watching something growing under my eyes, seeing the app unfolding day by day, that is something that releases tons of endorphins. I don’t know if everybody feels that, but I do. I have an incredible feeling of excitement every time I bring something from the idea level on the material level. Making things happening is one of the most fulfilling activities for me and surely this monkey is giving me a lot of reasons to to be happy.

Another side benefit is a little, but noticeable improvement in my discipline. I won’t lie to you, I’m a pretty damn disciplined fellow. Some guys are telling me that my schedule could rival with one that is imposed in military camps. So I’m not a newbie in this area. And still, I do feel that some parts of my daily routines are getting improved. Specifically, its about the parts in which “I don’t know” what to do. Call them pastimes or relaxation hours. Until I started to tame this monkey, I did have some times during the day when I allowed myself to just drift away and do whatever I feel like. It was ok. But a little bit shallow. Now I feel that I should get more of each relaxation hour instead of just going with the flow and doing whatever happens to be available. As I told you, I already had a trip to the mountains, I saw a theater play and all this just in the last 10 days. I feel eager to try new ways to relax. Which is very good. I think. 😉


Well, that’s it, That was my first update on taming my monkeys. As always, if you feel like sharing your own taming monkeys experiences, don’t be shy. Leave a comment and share.

3 thoughts on “Taming Monkey Number One – First Update”

  1. Dragos, you should do in parallel the same application for PlayBook. RIM has released the SDKs and I think I read somewhere they were going to give a PlayBook to every developer who had an application approved.

    And blog about writing the application for PlayBook.

  2. The very best of luck Dragos, in building on becoming a monkey-tamer. One monkey at a time, and soon you’ll have your own zoo full of monkeys!

    You’re right, a little more than nothing is always better than nothing. Keep at it and you’ll push through your barriers 🙂


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