Posts Tagged ‘rosh hashana’

16
Sep

A quick update for the new Shana

   Posted by: Alon   in Blog

Shalom all!

As you probably know, this evening we bid farewell to the 5772nd Jewish year – Tash’ab, and welcome with open arms the 5773rd year, Tash’ag.

I thought I’d take a moment to write my blessings for the new year and also let you know what has been going on with Tweet Your Prayer @TheKotel in recent months and what is planned for the future.

As you may have noticed, I haven’t been tweeting regularly from @TheKotel’s account in past months. I have been dealing with a several burdens in my personal life, which has been very demanding in many respects, including time-wise. Unfortunately, and it pains me to write, one of the compromises I had to make in order to keep my head above water was with the daily tweeting and sharing of news, sights and views from the Holy Land. However, prayers were, and are, still processed and placed in the Western-Wall (with great help from good people in Jerusalem). That was my top priority. I had to make concessions, and I chose delivering prayers as a top priority, over communicating and spreading the message of @TheKotel across the web. It just made sense that the least I could do was to keep what exists working.

I tried letting other people tweet from @TheKotel’s account, hoping they would fill in the void I left, until the time arrives when I’m able to tweet myself again. That didn’t work out too well, I’m afraid.

My goal for the new year is to resume tweeting, facebooking and communicating with all of you, and take @TheKotel to new heights. Your support and love over the years is making me strong, and I appreciate it. I’m confident that in Tash’ag Tweet Your Prayers @TheKotel would see wonderful things :) .

 

And now, a few words for the new Jewish year.

May we have a year of happiness.

A year of success.

A year of love and health.

A year in which others see the beauty in us and in themselves.

A year with protection, when no threats lie above and one man accepts the other for who he is.

A year in which we accept the bad with the good, keeping our chin up and a smile on.

A year of peace, and of free hugs (and lots of them).

A year in which we achieve our goals – our personal goals, our goals as a spouse, a parent, a child and a collective in a peace seeking society.

A year of sweetness, like the sweet and incredibly yummy Challah my mother baked for Rosh HaShana, pictured below :)

 

All the best from the Holy Land & Shana Tova! :)

 

Mom's yummy Challah for Rosh HaShana!

Mom’s yummy Challah for Rosh HaShana!

24
Sep

@TheKotel Android app – what’s next?

   Posted by: Alon   in Blog

Shalom all!

 

Some background

Last Tuesday our 1 month long campaign on Indiegogo has come to an end (link). For those of you who haven’t been following, it was a campaign to raise funds in order to pay for the development of an Android app for Tweet Your Prayers @TheKotel. Many thousands have installed the iPhone app, and prayers are flying in all the time from its users, so the next logical step is to develop an Android counterpart (for the non-techies reading this: Android is currently the most popular smartphone operating system out there. If you have a smartphone that’s not an iPhone, there’s a good chance it runs Android). Our mission here on Tweet Your Prayers @TheKotel is To Affect Change by Facilitating Prayer, and I believe facilitating prayer for the many millions of Android users is the next ground to conquer.

So the campaign ran for 30 days, and quite a few of you nice people have pledged to help make it happen. We raised $847, and after giving Indiegogo its share, we’re left with around $770, which should cover the fee an east European or Asian freelance developer would charge for a decent app (app development is crazy expensive anywhere else).

Indiegogo is a crowdfunding platform set to help people raise funds for their projects, and part of the game is to offer nifty perks to the people that help your campaign. So, friends who opened their hearts got (or will get in the mail in the next few weeks) nice things such as: a video of their prayer being placed in the Western-Wall, Star of David bracelets from Jerusalem, thank you letters with photos, being credited within the app, and more.

What I adore about the people who helped this campaign is that the vast majority of them don’t even have an Android phone. Some of them own an iPhone and wanted other people to have the same app they have, others don’t have a smartphone at all. All of the kind people who contributed to this campaign, and the aforementioned people in particular, gave to this project not in order to benefit themselves, but in order to help others. That’s kind, noble, and definitely not something you see everyday, in a world consumed with a “what’s in it for me?” attitude. I am humbled by this behavior, and cherish these people. Thank you.

 

Time frame

Initially I had hoped to have an early version of the app ready for launch by Rosh HaShana (the Jewish new year, coming this Wednesday!), as my gift to you. I don’t know if you remember, but the iPhone app was released as a Passover present a year and a half ago. I found a freelance developer who agreed to be paid only when the campaign ends, and we started working on the app. Alas, things didn’t work out, and we had to call it off. This was, however, a blessing in disguise, as I have gained some important experience from working with him. I believe this experience will help me make the app better than it would have been had that developer and I kept working together.

One of the lessons I learned is that there’s no way to get a fully functional app out there in such a short period of time. So, now that the campaign is over and the funds are waiting, I’m going to set a more realistic time frame: Hanukkah! By then, I sincerely hope to have the app built, bug fixed and tested by users on multiple devices. I would of course be delighted to have it available before then, but I believe it’s a reasonable time frame and want to do things right.

 

So, what’s coming next?

Well, first of all I have to send people who contributed to the app what they are entitled to. These people should expect nifty things from Jerusalem to hit their mailboxes soon! :)

Other than that, I’m going to start looking for a new developer to work on the app (interested? Drop me a line).

I’m also going to revise the app description and specifications to see what features I can add to it and how to make it as user-friendly as possible. If you have any ideas for the app, any features you’d like to see, any usability advice, or pretty much anything – drop me a line in the comments below (it will go straight to my mail box, won’t be published) and let me know. This is especially true for the iPhone app users who are reading this – let me know what I can do better for your friends that have Android phones!

After the description is revised and a talented developer is on board – we’ll go into building the app full force!

 

You can still help this project

See that orange button on the sidebar? It’s up there on the right. It has “Donate” on it. Yea.. that’s the one. Click it :) .

You can check out the list of perks other people got by looking at the sidebar on the campaign page, and apply for the perks by donating the sum associated with each perk (or more). Drop a line in the donation notes section and ask for the perk.

 

How to be the first to know

Please go to www.birdofprayer.org and register there to be the first to know when the app is launched! Also, please tell all your friends about it. I’m counting on you ;) .

 

Anyway, I’ll keep you all posted as things progress and in the meanwhile thank everyone that’s been a part of this campaign and helped in any way.

I’d also like to wish you all a Shana Tova :) .

Blessings from the Holy Land,

Alon

21
Sep

What my father and I built on Rosh HaShana

   Posted by: Alon   in Blog

Here’s a teaser for you: The pictures below show a part of a contraption my brilliant engineer father and I built during Rosh-HaShana long weekend. It DOES have to do with this project. Could you guess what it does and how it is used? More details to come soon… :)

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Feel free to write your guesses in the comments :)

UPDATE: It’s not enough to say what it is, you also need to say how it’s used.. :)

UPDATE #2 (Sep. 22, 6pm Jerusalem time): I guess it wasn’t such a big mystery to you guys.. yes, it is a part of an automatic prayer spooler. It is meant to be put on a sewing machine instead of the regular roll of string, and should roll any piece of paper it has in it. It’s just a prototype and we still have a lot more to do, but you have to admit it’s pretty cool  :) I’ll take a video of it in action and will upload it to youtube.

Congrats to Mandi, for being the quickest person to say what it is. Kelly from Ohio gave the most complete answer and also deserves praise. Mark Ferneau, Adam Hanin, QuarkSpin, Fr. Allen Peyton, Anderson Rodrigues, Kelley and Effie Suggs – You are all right!  Each of you is rewarded one cookie; Mandy and Kelly get two.