Math + art = apps [The Wenatchee World, Wash.]
(Wenatchee World, The (WA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jan. 19--WENATCHEE -- Stop us if you've heard this viola joke: What's the definition of "perfect pitch" Throwing a viola into a Dumpster without hitting the rim.
If that brought a chuckle, then you'll love the scores of viola witticisms -- yes, we're talking about the musical instrument -- featured on Viola Jokes, the debut app created two years ago by a pair of Wenatchee High School students.
Believe it or not, say smartphone application developers Spencer Larkin and Arnie Techavimol, it's one of the few apps in the Apple Store to poke fun at the four-string instrument.
"It came from Arnie's frustration with taking viola lessons," said Larkin. "Strong motivation."
The two 17-year-old high school seniors behind the partnership of Arnie & Spencer's Smartphone Applications -- "that name could change," said Larkin, "but it does sort of nail down what we do" -- are serious players in the Wenatchee Valley's fledgling app-design community.
Two of their apps -- Viola Jokes and the more popular Image Ninja -- have been downloaded thousands of times from the Apple Store and earned them enough money to break even on development costs. Those include the purchase of high-end Mac computers, graphics and licensing, not to mention the hours spent brainstorming ideas and writing xCode, the language behind most iPhone apps.
The duo has also designed a Garage Sale Finder app on contract for the Wenatchee World. The app gives the addresses of advertised garage sales and plots them on a local map for use on a smartphone.
Larkin does much of the app design -- what it does and how it looks -- while Techavimol immerses himself in writing the code that makes it all work.
Computer code is "a structured mix of math and art," said Techavimol. "When you get into it, you find it's a perfect, beautiful thing."
App illiterates will have to take his word for it. Code writing for Image Ninja took hundreds of hours to produce an app that -- to the end customer, at least -- looks pretty simple but isn't.
Image Ninja is a kind of get-revenge app. Users take photos of people, paste those images on bouncing balls and then use a finger like a sword to slash across the ball, which explodes. Enemy obliterated.
"People find this immensely satisfying," said Larkin.
Both teens said they've have had a lifelong fascination with computers and what they can do. As sixth-graders, they independently explored the world of video games -- "what kid doesn't love video games " asked Larkin -- with Techavimol moving beyond playing to creating. By eighth grade, he'd already written several simple video games.
"Mostly two-dimensional stuff," he said. "Simple mazes and scrolling shooters." The latter depicts the shooting of targets as they scroll past on a background. Remember 1978's "Space Invaders"
Techavimol, under the name FactRocks, has also produced tech tutorials on his own YouTube channel. His short videos -- more than 60 of them -- address all kinds of specific tech topics, such as installing custom screen savers on Kindle e-readers, customizing the Windows 7 operating system and setting up a wiki. (Wikis allow multiple users to add and edit content on a site.)
Three years ago, Larkin and Techavimol met and realized their similar interests could turn into an interesting hobby or business -- if not lucrative, then at least a break-even enterprise.
Now, the team has a half-dozen app ideas on the drawing board and are in discussions to produce a couple of apps under contract for local businesses.
"Basically, we both love the whole concept behind apps," said Larkin. "Here's something that's simple, useful, inexpensive and available to people around the world."
He paused for a second. "And best of all, they're right in your pocket -- those powerful little programs are available to you anytime you need them."
Mike Irwin: 665-1179
(c)2013 The Wenatchee World (Wenatchee, Wash.)
Visit The Wenatchee World (Wenatchee, Wash.) at www.wenatcheeworld.com
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