Tech Student's Two-Click Calendar: Now Playing at an iPhone Near You
May 14, 2009—
Back in high school, 17-year-old Craig Otis didn't much care for any of the calendars he used to keep track of his schoolwork.
"I used programs like Zimbra, but I didn't like how complicated they were," said Otis, now a fourth-year Michigan Tech student majoring in software engineering. "You had to type in all kinds of information. I wanted something that could do everything I wanted with a couple of clicks."
So, in his spare time Otis built the beta (but not too beta) version of an elegant little calendar. A Mac fanatic, he designed it to run on OS X and named it iProcrastinate at the suggestion of his little brother, who knew a thing or two about the study habits of teenagers. Then Otis rolled it out on the info-sharing site Digg.com. The announcement pointed readers to his own website, craigotis.com, where free downloads were available.
"Within a few hours it was on Digg's front page," Otis recalls. As a result, his somewhat dinky website was hammered with over 60,000 hits. "It completely took the site down."
That was back in 2006. Since then, Otis has beefed up his website and kept tinkering with his calendar. His work took a turn in April 2008, when Apple invited software developers to submit applications for the new iPhone. Four thousand made the final cut, among them iProcrastinate. Otis immediately started devoting most of his free time to adapting his Mac calendar for the iPhone; he released it in July.
A free iProcrastinate for Macs is readily available on the Apple site, where it is described as "a helpful app for students, moms, businessmen, and really anyone who needs some help keeping track of important projects or homework assignments."
You can find the iPhone version by going to iTunes and tracking it down in the App Store under the "Productivity" category.
What's next? "I'd like to keep working on it," says Otis. "I want to put some new things in over the summer." If he's successful, he might start charging a buck or two for downloads. For now, he encourages donations, though he realizes that this business model isn't likely to make him rich.
"I don't think it will ever support me," Otis says. But it's been fun, and developing iProcrastinate has given him a consummate education that could give him an edge in the quest for his dream job. "Someday, I'd like to go out to California and work for Apple," he says.
Michigan Technological University (www.mtu.edu) is a leading public research university developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 130 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering; forest resources; computing; technology; business; economics; natural, physical and environmental sciences; arts; humanities; and social sciences.