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What I've been up to for the past 8 months

This post is for friends and family that I don't get to catch up with as often as I'd like to. You likely know I write software, but you may not know what I've been building lately, or why. So here ya go.


Back in early October 2014 I left a fantastic team of people at Intergen - doing some very exciting work - to join Little Lot, a small startup with a simple, innovative, solution with a meaningful outcome.

For years I had been feeling a strong desire to apply my energy to outcomes with a stronger social significance. To get a sense of what I mean, check out this video, Programming for Social Impact by Joshua Vial. He communicates my ideals better than I can myself.

Little Lot is a simple, innovative solution that enables people to contribute to local charities they care about, for free. Here's how it works. The software changes their desktop wallpaper to a beautiful image or photograph a local business has paid Little Lot to apply. Little Lot gives 75% of this revenue to the charity the user has chosen. It's that simple. How 'bout an infographic.

The Little Lot model

Before I joined the team, all of the users were individuals like you and I who installed the software themselves.

I joined Little Lot to enable the software to be deployed across all of the computers in an organization.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is becoming more and more important to both companies and their customers. Organizations have the opportunity to be as socially important to a community as they are to its economics. One effective pattern we see is when a company aligns with a single local cause (and sometimes multiple). That way the employees can see first-hand the impact their combined efforts are having in their community. Naturally this influences employee satisfaction, pride and retention - not to mention how it influences the perceptions of the company's customers. I could go on an on about this, but suffice it to say, this is a huge opportunity for companies, communities, and the charities that support them to accomplish amazing outcomes together.

A number of things had to happen before Little Lot could be rolled out across an organization. The Windows application needed to be completely rewritten and its deployment approach and security requirements needed to be enterprise-ready. It's been an immensely gratifying ride so far and there is an endless list of ideas we want to add in the future.

Currently Little Lot is only available in NZ because of its focus on local companies engaged with local charities. There are plans in motion to bring the UK online next, and after that, we'll just have to see.

So since you may not be able to install it, I've included some images of what it looks like. I'm quite proud of how it's turned out so far.

Registration Step 1

While I didn't design the look of the application, I've thoroughly enjoyed building it. We have some serious design talent on the team. You should see some of the wallpapers.

Registration Step 2

If you have curiosities of a technical nature ... this is built with C# and WPF. It's using Akavache for the local cache and Squirrel for the installer/updater. The backend uses ASP.NET WebAPI with a SQL Database hosted in Windows Azure and was built by our other talented devs (not me).

Main window

Hopefully this gives you some idea about what I've been up to. I certainly have no shortage of challenging and worthwhile side projects and hobbies, but it feels great to be able to spend all day doing something that's making a real difference. I'm very fortunate indeed.

Don Smith

Don Smith

Progressive. Global citizen. Seeker of balance and harmony. Patient. Intolerant of suffering, greed and exploitation. Educator. Imperfect. Forgiving. Software developer. Vulnerable. Loves people.

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