Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · A New Local Focus on Apps
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A New Local Focus on Apps

Kristi Kates - September 24th, 2012  

Petoskey is regionally famed for a lot of things, including its ‘million dollar sunsets,’ Gaslight Shopping District and the Odawa Casino Resort, to name a few. But now, one man and his ambitious small company are aiming to be the Next Big Thing out of P-town.

Keith Schmidt and New Focus Creative are calling themselves “Northern Michigan’s only iPhone, iPad, and Android developer,” and they’ve already made a couple of strides right into the online media app stores, while also doing web design and ecommerce projects.

Schmidt has been in web design since the early ’90s, mostly as a graphic and interface designer. He moved with various jobs from Detroit to Denver, Colorado, and did stints with the likes of AT&T, ESPN, and Mapquest.

“During this time, I’ve seen the web evolve from something static to something very interactive, and watched it become a necessary part of life,” Schmidt says. “Today, more than half of people accessing the internet in the U.S. access it from a mobile device, a smart phone or tablet. Because these devices are cheaper than a PC and more mobile, this trend is predicted to continue.”


In 2009, Schmidt began talking to his web clients about the importance of designing for mobile platforms and having mobile-friendly websites.

“At the same time, I felt that the mobile browser experience was lacking,” he explains. “While you can design a web page to look like an app, you still have to open it through a web browser on your phone, not just hit a button to open it. So I started looking at developing ‘native’ apps to address some of the shortcomings.”

Working with his local team, Schmidt does all of the design and the workflows - how the app is navigated - and then based on the target platform, iPhone or Android, one of his programmers starts coding.

“Native smartphone apps require not just knowing the language the apps are developed in, but knowing how to code well and efficiently for each platform,” Schmidt explains. “I’m lucky in that respect as I have the two smartest guys around for this.”


New Focus Creative’s first ‘big time’ app is called SnapColor, which Schmidt claims is the “first shoot and print coloring book creator in the App Store.”

“It’s actually an idea we came up with by accident,” he says. “My iPhone developer was working on a series of video filters for another app, and he showed me one that did an amazing job of making the iPhone camera’s live video look like hand-drawn line art, just really jaw-dropping stuff, and all in real time.”

Schmidt says he immediately thought of a trip he had taken as a kid with his parents to Mackinac Island.

“They bought me a coloring book that had all the Mackinac stuff in it, the fort, soldiers, Indians, the lighthouse, which I loved. I thought, ‘how cool would it be to go on vacation and make your own coloring book of memories and really commemorate it in something that would be fun and remind you of the trip.”

The SnapColor app is simple to use. You create and name coloring books, select a book, and add ‘pages.’ Each page opens a camera window, but in the app’s special line art mode.

“Then you just tap a button to ‘snap’ that image, give it a name, and save it to your book,” Schmidt explains. “You can add and delete pages at any time, and add and delete books at any time.”

The books can be printed to an Airprint-enabled printer directly from the iPhone, or published to iBooks as a PDF file. You can even email the book and share it with others.

And of course, once it’s printed, you can color it in.

“You can use it for everything from making a coloring book of your family vacation to technical illustration and more,” Schmidt says. “The Northwest Michigan Botanic Garden in Traverse City wants to use the app to make a coloring book of the garden they can sell in their gift shop for fundraising. I have a friend using it to make a comic book. The uses are practically endless.”


Both an iPad and an Android version of the app are in the works, too. And SnapColor is just the beginning. New Focus Creative has already worked on an app for Western Michigan’s resort towns called ‘Michigan’s Gold Coast,’ and another specialty medical app that assists doctors with the conversion of medical dosages.

While prices to develop an app are in the thousands of dollars, it’s not something to be done on a whim, Schmidt says.

“Because of the specialized skills and effort to develop a smart phone app, they are definitely not cheap,” he explains. “It’s difficult to convey the complexity and cost to clients. If you have an app idea, we’d love to hear it, but keep in mind that an app will cost a considerable amount to develop, and you will need to market your app for it to be successful in the increasingly crowded app store.”

“On the bright side,” he continues, “modern travelers may well forget their wallet, their tickets, even the running faucet, but one thing they’ll never leave home without is their phone. We think that apps that assist vacationers are the ones that have the greatest potential in this market - and you never know - your app could be the biggest seller in Japan.”

Visit Petoskey’s New Focus Creative and Keith Schmidt online at www.newfocuscreative.com, telephone 231-330-0229. The SnapColor app is available for $1.99 in the iTunes store.

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