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Ironcoded!

Last week, I finally got a chance to participate in an Ironcoder contest and I took second place! I've never been able to find the time during the previous, weekend-long contests, but since Ironcoder VII was nine days long, I managed to squeeze some time in during the week and put together an entry. Read on for some more info.

First off, a caveat: Ironcoder is a programming contest, by programmers and for programmers, so don't expect anything particularly useful to come out of it (nor my entry). Entrants are writing to show off programming chops under pressure.

The contest theme was "Retro" and the preferred programming toolset was Core Animation. I diverged a tad (which is allowed) and instead used Quartz Composer, a visual programming language which was introduced on Tiger, created my animations there, and wrapped it in Cocoa to do the normal things that applications do.

I described my entry, called "Pop Rock", in the README file thusly:

Pop Rock takes the Ironcoder theme of Retro and the API of Core Animation and combines them as a retro rock concert app launcher. As each app is launched, it is a featured performer on stage, playing a guitar riff in front of the rest of your running apps. The more apps you are running at the time, the more popular the launched app and the better the crowd reaction.

The idea for Pop Rock just kind of popped into my head after about a day or two of latent thinking and once I started, I couldn't stop (as my wife can attest). The pressure was fun! Also, I mentioned it in the project notes, but again I just want to give a shout out to fellow Mac indie Mike Zornek of Clickable Bliss for his MegaManEffect, which I adore and which gave me the idea for an app launcher style of project.

I originally had the idea to use iusethis to fetch app popularity ratings, but this proved to be too slow to be useful at app launch time, so I fell back to a basic count of the number of other applications running, which was much quicker.

Since the app was built on Quartz Composer and not on Core Animation, it runs on Tiger too. I've compiled a version for both Tiger and Leopard (though I haven't had a chance to test it on Tiger yet).


Pop Rock screenshot thumbnail

Pop Rock (click for larger screenshot)

Download (7.42MB) | Source Code


You can read a bit more about the contest results over at Ars Technica or on the Ironcoder blog. Congratulations as well to Geoff Pado of Elgebar Studios for his winning entry, Etcher, a really great Etch A Sketch tribute!

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Congrats, Justin!

The screenshot looks great, but alas, it does not seem to work on Tiger for me: nothing happens after launching the app, i.e. only the Pop Rock menu bar is shown.

It doesn't do anything until you start launching other programs afterwards. Give that a shot.

Duh, guess I should have paid more attention to the description ;-)

Works fine on Tiger.

this is amazing. quicksilver + guitar hero = bliss. I am literally going to just open programs all day and watch the crowd swell / crash my computer.

What? no stage diving?

What? no stage diving?

Awesome app. You should have

Awesome app. You should have contacted us about getting a custom feed with the info you require on startup to speed things up ;)

@Marcus: Ha! That would have

@Marcus: Ha! That would have been cool. Next time, I'll be sure to!