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Idaho teen channels interests into iPhone, iPad apps

Sun., May 9, 2010

Cody Brown, 16,  a junior black belt in karate, demonstrates a move last month. Brown, a Kuna High School sophomore honor student, is working with Apple on a karate application for the new iPad. (Associated Press)
Cody Brown, 16, a junior black belt in karate, demonstrates a move last month. Brown, a Kuna High School sophomore honor student, is working with Apple on a karate application for the new iPad. (Associated Press)

KUNA, Idaho – Cody Brown won’t be pounding the pavement to find a job this summer like other Treasure Valley high school students.

Instead, the Kuna High School sophomore honor student – a self-taught computer programmer who is already marketing an Apple iPhone application on the work of French astronomer Charles Messier – will be at his laptop writing code for a new iPad program. This time, it will be on martial arts.

This spring, Brown is waiting for sales of his “Messier” application to begin producing royalty payments from Apple.

To his surprise, the 99-cent program sold online at the iTunes App Store is posting daily sales in the United States and overseas.

“I didn’t know if it was going to sell,” Brown said. “When I saw that it was, I thought it was people my dad had told about it. Then I saw that it was selling in Europe and thought, well, we don’t know anybody in those countries.”

Brown’s father, Dave, founder of CyberHighway Internet Services, said he deliberately kept his distance from his son’s project, despite a background in routing engineering and network infrastructure design that would have allowed him to help write the code.

“There were times when Cody was tearing his hair out,” said Dave Brown. “But he went and did the research and figured it out. You have to give kids a chance to fail if they’re ever going to learn how to succeed.”

Cody Brown’s “Messier” application is a catalog of 112 “deep sky” objects identified by the 18th century astronomer, including images of star clusters, hydrogen gas clouds where stars are born, the constellations where they are located, when they can be viewed and their exact coordinates.

So far, reviews of the “Messier” app posted on iTunes are averaging 3 1/2 stars out of five. One reviewer described its images as “close to how you see objects through your telescope.”

Brown’s iPad program will focus on Kenpo Karate. Nine applications will use video to demonstrate the techniques required to earn everything from a beginner’s yellow belt to three black belt degrees.

Brown has been involved in the sport for 10 years and holds a junior black belt.

“It’s going to be a lot more complex because I have never done this before,” he said, “and so much of program writing involves having done something a million times before.”

The application will sell for $1.99 when completed.

For the video component, he has enlisted the help of his instructor, Mitch Tippett, a fifth-degree Kenpo Karate black belt who will be shown demonstrating leverage techniques, which can be employed by a smaller person, to more heavy impact moves for larger individuals.

“Cody is not just a geek,” Tippett said. “He’s got a sharp mind and athletic talent. That’s rare in such a well-balanced young man.”

Tippett predicts that with the worldwide interest in Kenpo Karate, and the popularity of Apple’s devices, Brown’s next application will outperform his first computer program.

“This is definitely going to attract attention,” he said.


 

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