Friday, June 3, 2011

Methow Valley News gets its first iPad app thanks to the work of a local developer and duct tape wallet maker

If Google Maps is to be believed, Twisp, Washington has to be a fairly isolated, though idyllic. Population 938, according to Wikipedia, it is located in the Methow Valley, which looks like the kind of place where you horse back ride in the summer, and cross-country ski in the winter.
The weekly newspaper, the Methow Valley News is published by Paul Butler and staff, and now it has its own tablet edition thanks to Brian Drye, who lives in nearby Wintrop.

Drye, 40, has just released his first iPad app, Methow Valley News, and is charging $2.99 for access to the latest local news. In addition to this first tablet app which is an offshoot of his original iPhone version, released in 2009, the developer has a dozen other mobile apps for such things as Tennis String Tension, a cross-country skiiing app called MVSTA Grooming Report, and others.

I tracked Drye down and asked him about his app. It turns out that Drye does his development all from scratch, no do-it-yourself website vendor help – "just for fun, mainly," Drye told me.
"I have Xcode, and write it in Cocoa, and then test it locally – and then use a simulator, and then an attached iPod to try it out," Drye said.

If you click on the app support page, you'll see pictures of his mobile app shown on an original first generation iPhone. The page is part of, the site Drye uses to sell his other wares: Duct Tape Wallets – "that's my other sort of weekend activity."

"I used to live in Seattle with my wife and we moved to a smaller town, Wintrop," Drye said. "They have a nice farmer's market so it's a good place to meet people."

The move was made at the beginning of 2007 and he clearly likes it there. "It's a great place," Drye told me. "We're on the other side of the Cascades, so its pretty dry and sunny – and we're kind of up in the mountains, so you have all hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, skiing and all that stuff going on. It's a great place to live."

I wondered if Twisp was the kind of place David Lynch used to shoot Twin Peaks, his television series. But that turns out to have been North Bend, Washington, much closer to Seattle than the Methow Valley.

Judging by the photos of the staff of the Methow Valley News, Twisp is definitely not anything like the folks in Twin Peaks – which may be good or bad depending on your perspective, I suppose.

In any case, Twisp now has both iPhone and iPad news apps, something a lot of towns can't claim including Chicago, one should be reminded.

Now I wonder if the Antlers Saloon (real place) has good WiFi so you can use these apps to catch up on events in the valley?