Saturday, February 11, 2012

Monkey Write at SF Chinese New Year celebrations

8 days ago, on February 3, AT&T emailed me and asked me if I would be interested in demoing Monkey Write at the Chinese Lunar New Year Festival in San Francisco this weekend. I said yes immediately since it was such a great venue to showcase the app.

There was only one slight problem - my app wasn't ready for the public at that point. But I was very very close, so I set to work, staying up until the wee hours to get it done. I finished on Thursday, with two days of breathing room to test workbook downloading from Android Market. As they say, there is nothing like a tight deadline to increase your productivity!

This morning I work up early to drive up to SF Chinatown, since they wanted to do a video shoot at the event, and that would be difficult when the street got jammed with people. I met up with Jeremy, the videographer/sound technician/director/producer for the video. We first did a few sequences of me demoing the app, and then changed to interview format so I could describe my experience at the AT&T hackathon, where the app got started.

See what I was wearing? When I mentioned that I would be demoing at SF Chinatown, one of my friends suggested that I made some T-shirts to wear. With a cute monkey like that, it took me no time to decide it was a good idea. I will be attending quite a few events in the coming weeks, and I bet the T-shirt will make a great conversation starter.

In preparation for the event, I mentioned to AT&T that I planned to make some fliers with the name of my app, for people to take home and download it at their leisure. Turns out everything distributed from the AT&T booth had to be approved, so it would be hard for me to hand out fliers. No fliers then, I thought, not a big deal. But then they gave me a really nice surprise: AT&T was handing out orange envelopes anyway, and they added Monkey Write to the note inside!

They were literally giving out thousands of these orange envelopes!

Here is a closeup of the note. Look, Monkey Write and Angry Birds are mentioned in the same sentence!

After the interview, I set up a few demo phones and tablets with Monkey Write. At 10:30am the booth was ready for the public, and I started to show Monkey Write to people. Most of them were actually Chinese, so I ended up speaking Cantonese 80% of the time. And most of them already knew how to write Chinese, which made the demo a little bit awkward:

"This is a game where you can learn to write Chinese. Try it." I said in Cantonese.
[Chinese lady quickly completes all the characters]
"Is that it? Where do I get my prize?" she asked, also in Cantonese.

Fortunately a few Chinese children were also checking out the devices at the booth, and they started playing with the app. Some of them go to Chinese school on Sundays, so the Introduction workbook was too easy. When that happened, I opened the Numbers workbook, and asked them to write character for ten-thousand, stroke numbers off, and off they go, trying to get the perfect score. It was actually quite a lot of fun watching them enjoying the app. Too bad I was too busy demoing, and didn't take any photos of the kids. But Jeremy the videographer captured it all on video, and I am really looking forward to the final cut!

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