Blogging Friday demos again (now with pictures and music).

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Jeff R. was responsible for ordering Friday’s lunch, and he expanded our gustatory boundaries with an exotic delicacy known as “pizza” (pronounced PEET-sa).

After lunch, as we sat around belching and patting our bellies, Allan demonstrated a video game called DJ Hero, a variant of the Guitar Hero / Rock Band concept that replaces toy guitars with toy turntables. Projecting the game on the big screen, Allan made us sit through the introductory sequence, set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where DJ superheroes knock down entire cities with their mixmastering skills. Brendan seemed confused. “What does this have to do with being a DJ?” he asked. “This doesn’t make me want to play the game.”

Chris pointed out that Brendan, whose musical tastes are arrested in the Bob Seger era, is probably not the target audience for DJ Hero. Brendan stalked off to feed his pet dinosaur while Chris and Dave faced off in an epic turntable battle that blended Blondie’s Rapture with a latter-day hip hop tune, to perplexing effect. “If I wasn’t watching the screen, I wouldn’t be able to tell when you screwed up and when it was supposed to sound like that,” Jeff R. complained, on behalf of all the old people in the room.

Demo # 1. Shawn showed off the work that he and Blair have done to optimize the Overview screen in StepRep. That’s the first screen you see after you log in, containing a bunch of little charts and graphs, each of them requiring one or more time-consuming queries to Google App Engine. Luckily we can use our asynctools toolkit to run those queries in parallel, thereby reducing the time it takes to load the page.

Jason mentioned that Shawn and Blair’s work will be the subject of VendAsta’s upcoming guest post on the official Google App Engine Blog. I’m sure we’ll be bragging about this a lot more in coming weeks, but hey, you can’t start too soon.

Demo # 2. While Tavis struggled to connect his wheezing old Dell laptop to the projector, Mariatta showed up with her new kid, Jonathan. Mariatta has been on maternity leave for the last month and this is the first time Jonathan has shown up in the office, so everyone jumped out of their chairs to crowd around the baby.

Eventually the room settled down. While Jonathan burbled and blatted in the background, Tavis talked about the secret project he and the Scrumdogs have been working on. He flipped back and forth between the PayPal API and App Engine to demonstrate how transactions will work in the new application.

Tavis also showed a cartoon I’ve been working on to promote the secret project. Here’s a sample frame; unfortunately I’ve had to redact some of the text.

Demo # 3. Dave and others have been making some significant changes to the design and layout of StepRep. These will be pretty obvious next time you log in to your account. As part of the update, they’ve moved several screens from subnavigation menus up to the top-level navigation bar, which now looks like this:

Demo # 4. Thanks to Jeff R. and his team, it’s now possible to edit your “anchor data” within StepRep’s Visibility tab. (The “anchor data” is the information StepRep uses to identify your listing wherever it appears on business directory websites – your business name, phone number, address, etc.)

Demo # 5. I took some notes on Jason’s demo, but he heard me typing and said, “This is covered under a non-disclosure agreement, so no blogging.” That’s okay, I didn’t understand what he was talking about anyway.

Demo # 6. Lastly, Brendan reported from this week’s Inman Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco. Apparently he uncovered a lot of new partnership opportunities for StepRep, but there’s nothing official to announce yet.

Brendan has been going to Inman every year for almost a decade and he’s pretty familiar with San Francisco by now. He told us how on a previous visit he, Jeff Tomlin, and some other guys were walking back to their hotel late at night and Jeff balked at walking down a rough block in the Tenderloin district. “So we went through the Tenderloin and Jeff went the long way around, and Jeff was the one that got mugged!”

Jeff piped up indignantly, “I didn’t get mugged.”

“No, you just gave that guy your wallet,” said Tavis.

As demos broke up, Jeff was explaining how he didn’t actually get mugged, and Tavis and Jason were Googling the origins of the name “Tenderloin”.

PS. Thanks to Krystian for assistance with photography this week. You can tell which photos are his because they’re not blurry.