Friday, August 13, 2010

For Former York Teen, It’s All About Apps

By Betsy Caron
Staff Columnist
Harrison White has a Mac. He’s had all the latest Apple gadgets over the years and uses iTunes every day. But 14-year-old White isn’t carelessly spending hundreds of dollars on Apps — he’s creating them.
“Back when I was about 2 years old, I enjoyed taking things apart and explaining to my parents how it worked,” said White, who added his favorite subject in school is math. He even used to ask his mom for multiplication tables on his napkins for lunch.
Now, the former York, Maine, resident lives in Burlington, Iowa, and has four published iPad and iPod applications for sale online in the iTunes Store, each of which he programmed himself: iPiano Player, BigText, Scrambler and Conversation. Each App sells for $.99.
“The very first step is to think of a good idea that people would like,” White said. “Something that people would be interested in downloading to their device.”
White has been creating and programming Apps for about a year. His first App, iPiano Player, was rejected by Apple the first time it was submitted, but White refused to let one failed attempt stop him and his creativity.
“I wasn’t completely devastated,” he said. “It got rejected a couple times. The first two were for name issues. Afterward it was just a user interface problem. They have these guidelines for what your applications should and should not look like when presenting the interface. I just made a small correction on that.”
IPiano Player serves as a virtual piano for the iPad and was officially released on April 20, 2010.
“It’s like a life-size piano so the user can feel like they’re actually playing the piano,” White said. He has perfected the App with a recording feature, visualizer for playback, metronomes and pedal features. “With a lot of other piano Apps, the whole interface takes up a lot of the space and I wanted to make this as realistic as possible.”
Although modest about his musical talent, White has taken piano lessons since he was in Kindergarten and said his piano teacher was excited about the virtual piano. Other friends and family are also impressed with his achievements.
“A lot of people have always known that I’m pretty good with technology and a lot of people were excited that I made this accomplishment,” White said.
While he’s already successfully completed programming for Apple, White said he doesn’t have a set career path in mind yet, and may even consider following his dad’s footsteps in the medical field.
“I’m not quite sure what I want to do when I grow up,” he said. “I definitely have an interest in [computers], but I’ve only been doing this for about a year so it’s a little iffy.”
A few weeks ago, White received his first payment from Apple: a $280 check. But he said the money isn’t the reason he invents his Apps.
“You can actually use what you know to make something useful,” he said.
In the end, whether White ends up as the next Steve Jobs or as a piano teacher, he certainly will have come a long way from the kid in school with math problems on his napkin.
Photo caption: Harrison White, formerly of York, has published four apps for sale by Apple. (Courtesy photo)

Wedding Cake House to Open Again for Tours

Kennebunk’s Most Famous House will be open for Public Tours Aug. 15 through Sept. 15, 2010.
Jimmy Barker, owner of the Wedding Cake House on Summer Street in Kennebunk, has announced that his home will be open for Public Tours beginning Aug. 15, 2010. This is only the second time in the history of the house that it has been opened for Public tours.
The house, which is world renowned for its gothic trim that adds a frosting look to the Federal Style home, has been photographed and painted countless times by amateurs and professionals alike. From postcards beginning in the early 20th Century to contemporary coffee table books and wall paintings, this ship builder’s home is easily recognized by locals and tourists.
It was built by George Washington Bourne; he and his wife Jane moved into the home in late 1825 or early 1826. He had been raised in the home next door and both homes were in the midst of the Landing Road shipbuilding. His father had been one of the foremost shipbuilders of the times and George later joined his father in the family business renamed John Bourne & Son. Later when his father retired the business was changed to Bourne & Kingsbury to reflect the addition of his brother-in-law into the family business. The two partners grew the business and were well-known for their business astuteness. George was also active in the Unitarian Church, commonly now known as First Church in the upper village of Kennebunk.
In the early 1850’s the ship building industry decreased in the Kennebunk area and George retired from the business in 1852. Shortly after that the house’s barn burned and George took to rebuilding and as he did he decided to add Gothic buttresses, pinnacles and other elements inspired by the Cathedral at Milan, Italy. He liked the look and continued with an assistant to add this decoration to the house itself.
In 1855, George, his wife, their daughter Lucy, and a niece Lizzie Bourne took a family vacation to Mount Washington, where his niece died and George’s health deteriorated as a result of his efforts to save her. He died the following year but his wife continued living in the home for another 40 years. Her daughter Lucy predeceased her and the house was inherited by the grandson, George Bourne Lord. Following his death, his wife continued to own the house until it was sold to Mary and Anne Burnett in 1983. The Burnett’s were not related to the Bourne family but they loved historical homes and made a major renovation of the house.
In 1998, Jimmy Barker and Kenneth Douglas bought the home and filled it with antiques and treasures of interest from their own lives. In 2005 the owners opened their home for Public Tours as a benefit for the Katrina Relief Fund. The current tours will help to benefit area food banks.
The tours will run Aug. 15 through Sept. 15 daily 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission will be $10 per person. The home is not handicap accessible and parking is free on the grounds of the property. Ticket sales will be in the barn on the day of the purchase. FMI call 207-251-6968.
Photo caption: The Wedding Cake House in Kennebunk will open for tours from Aug. 15 to Sept. 15. Proceeds will benefit local food pantries. (Courtesy photo)

Property Tax Relief Program Available

State Reps. Kathleen Chase (R-Wells), Windol Weaver (R-York) and Sally Lewin (R-Eliot) want to alert area residents that the application period for Maine’s Property Tax and Rent Refund Program opened Aug. 1 for taxes and rent paid during 2009. Under this program, commonly known as the “circuit breaker,” Mainers who qualify are eligible for refunds of up to $1,600. It is the state government’s primary program to provide property tax relief.
Under the guidelines, you may qualify for a refund if you do not have a spouse or dependents and your 2009 income was $64,950 or less. If you have a spouse or dependents, you could have made up to $86,600 in 2009 and still qualify. Also, to receive a refund, your 2009 property tax must have exceeded four percent of your income. It is important to remember that this is tax relief to which you are entitled, not welfare.
Renters qualify if the rent they paid in 2009 exceeded twenty percent of their income. Seniors do not need to meet this property tax or rent requirement if their household income was below $14,700 for those living alone or below $18,200 for those living with a spouse or dependent.
The application is available online through the Maine Revenue Services (MRS) website at In addition to a copy of the paper application, which you may print out and mail to MRS, you will find a link to the online application site. Online applications are easier for you, as they automatically perform all necessary calculations; and they cost less to process.