By: LeeSr in [BBQ]
OK, let's try this again. I won't be giving away any more copies of Virtual Cat Toys on the Apple iOS App Store, I appreciate the single person out of hundreds that downloaded my app who gave me a review on the store page. Do I sound disappointed? Well, I had hoped for more feedback (positive and negative), and not a single person submitted videos in the month that followed.
At any rate, we will march on here, with a new plan.
Create a video of your cats (or small children) playing with Virtual Cat Toys HD, post links to the iTunes and Google Play store pages in your summary.
Post your videos to YouTube, along with store page links in your summary, and get more than 10,000 views, 50 comments, and 100 likes (more likes than dislikes), and I will send you $100.
Get your video posted to a top 1000 internet site's front page, and let me know, and send me the link, and I'll send you $100. The first five videos to achieve this get the cash.
One cash award per video.
I'll call this "The Blatant Attempt at Promotion Contest." Heh.
So that's the plan... I'm laying out my own money - money I haven't even made yet on this app - for people to claim, simply by creating a video of your pets or children playing with my app.
Again, the e-mail for this is email@example.com
By: LeeSr in [BBQ]
Ah well, looks like I can offer my app for a limited time on iTunes, for I'm making it FREE for Friday.
Here is the Virtual Cat Toys HD in the iTunes store.
Also, quick note to those concerned about scratches from cat claws.... I did a quick check on my Gen1 iPad, and even a metal nail file did not scratch the glass surface of the iPad. It's Gorilla Glass, and as I've said before, unless your cat is wearing diamonds on the tips of their claws, they WILL NOT SCRATCH IT.
The regular price is $4.99, so if that's too much for you, get it now.
Virtual Cat toys HD is also available on Google Play and Amazon's App Store for $4.99, which is still a steal, considering what 15 dollar store cat toys would cost you!!
More collections are also planned, a future update will allow you to purchase new collections with new environments. We have big things planned for Virtual Cat Toys HD, and now is your opportunity to get in on the ground floor!!
UPDATE: The deal has expired, it was a one day only deal. The price for the Android and iPad versions of the app have settled to $2.99. Anything lower was an introductory price.
If you got a free copy of this for your iPad, please give me feedback. There will be updates soon with more improvements, including the ability to purchase new collections as they become available.
By: LeeSr in [BBQ]
I have just been approved on iTunes to sell Virtual Cat toys HD for the iPad!
This has all of the features available except "vibration" which the iPad does not support at all.
To promote the iPad release of my app, "Virtual Cat Toys HD" I am announcing an informal contest.
I need fresh victims, I mean, kittens to try out my app on your tablets! Record them playing with the variety of critters available in this app, and the best (funniest or cutest) video will win $100. If there are enough contestants (say around 100), I will also give away several my "3 Cat Jingle Ball" t-shirts to honorable mentions
The contest rules are simple:
All entrants will need:
* A webOS, Android or iPad Tablet
* A Video Camera
* Virtual Cat Toys HD
* YouTube, Flickr, or similar video hosting account
* Paypal account to receive payment, or valid mailing address to get a money order.
* Cats. Kittens are perfectly acceptable. Kids might work too... as seen in this video.
Send your links to firstname.lastname@example.org
As entries come in, I will update this post and list links to the videos here, in no particular order. I make no claim on the videos, they are yours... remember, if they go viral, you might just get lots of hits.
I also have a promo codes for owners of the HP Touchpad (webOS) for free copies of the game, posted only to this forum (Sorry android and iPad users, Google Play and iTunes do not offer developers the ability to do a "promo campaign", but at $1.99, I'm still practically giving it away!)
Virtual Cat Toys HD is an interactive simulation of several realistic cat toys and critters. Cats can paw and "catch" the toys, with different reactions. On Android tablets, it can also use the vibrate functionality to enhance the cat's tactile feedback (sorry iPad owners, Apple didn't include that feature in the iPad). You can also display stats that describe how successful the cat is at its attempts to grab the toys.
Also, just for the participants of this contest, I'm going to let you in on a little secret.... there is an "Easter Egg" in the game that can provide a little "jolt" to your cat (or to humans). Tap the "Select Toy" logo 5 times, and it turns green. This activates the "devil dog" which can pop up randomly when the animal (or human) catches the toy. Use this with caution, and please don't traumitize any cats that might not be able to handle it (though feel free to do this to a human)
The promo code for the webOS version of the app: esoxj 05864 ycfsq
Links to the store pages:
Apple iTunes App Store
Google Play Android market
Amazon Android App Market (Kindle Fire)
Palm webOS Market
The contest is CLOSED.
UPDATE: Due to lack of participants (and by lack, I mean NOBODY!! Come on, I gave you a month and gave away copies of my app!), I'm changing things up. I'll post more details later in the day. There will still opportunities to make some easy money, but something a bit more specific and oriented toward getting some action.
By: LeeSr in [BBQ]
Ugh. Well, Apple does have promo codes, but it is of limited use. I'm limited to 50 single-use promo codes.What I really need for iTunes and Google Play is something like Palm's "Promotional Campaign" where a single code can be used up "X" times and expiring on a given date. Being limited to 50 promotional giveaways also means it simply isn't practical to use for a big user giveaway, but needs to be rationed out for reviewers and close friends/family. I guess if I was charging more than $1.99 for my app, it might be a bigger deal... but it is a bit disappointing that I am unable to carry out my initial plan to give away several hundred copies of the iPad version of my Virtual Cat Toys HD app.
I'll say this again for Apple, Google, and Amazon: Stop being stingy!! Ultimately, it is the success of the developers that makes you money in the app markets, and we are not going to give away our apps without some benefit to ourselves (and by proxy, the corporations running app markets). Give us the tools to properly promote out apps, and watch sales increase!
By: LeeSr in [BBQ]
Google's Play seems to miss the point when it comes to promotional tools for developers. Google's idea of support is to provide "buttons" identifying your app with their store. That's it. Amazon's Appstore has an interesting feature that allows you to test an app on your PC through an emulator, a very handy feature, but they to seem to miss an important feature for promoting app sales - promo codes. Promo codes are codes that a developer can generate that allows users to enter the code in exchange for a free copy of the app, basically, neither Google Play nor Amazon's Appstore allow me to give away my apps as part of a promotion or for reviewers. Palm (and I believe Apple's App Store as well) has a nice feature that lets me generate "giveaway" codes. I cna't express enough how important this sort of tool is to developers... giveaways generate publicity on the internet and spark interest in your product, even after the giveaway expires, and the ability to give professional reviewers "store copies" helps make sure everything goes through the store (I could provide a development APK, but why make things easier for potential pirates?)
As a prime example, I released my Virtual Cat Toys on the Palm store (webOS) for the Touchpad. This was a relatively limited market, and I gave away quite a few copies, but I generated far more sales thanks to the promotion. Of course, my sales have dwindled as Touchpad (the only webOS tablet) owners switched their tablets over to Android; I get a trickle of sales today, compared to 6 months ago. I do credit the promotion for the sales I got, though... a webOS tablet app is a tough sell, because the market is microscopic compared to Android and iOS devices out there.
Google and Amazon's answer to developer's requests for "promo codes" were a bit dense, to say the least... suggesting developers purchase gift card codes equivalent to the amount of the app. I don't think I need to list the problems with that, but for completeness (and in case anybody from Google or Amazon are reading this), I will. First and foremost, if I give somebody a $1.99 "gift code" there is absolutely no guarantee they will buy my app with the code. That's just ugly. Second, Google and Amazon will get their "cut" for each app i give away... I'll end up paying them money to give away my app; does that seem remotely fair? The last glaring problem with this is the logistics of purchasing large numbers of "gift codes" and the issues with distributing those codes. My brother-in-law had an interesting point... he suggested they didn't want developers to use promocodes because they want to make every cent possible; I suppose in a blunt, short-sighted way, I can see an exec thinking like that, but in the long term, their lack of promo codes hurts my bottom line, as well as theirs. With promo codes, I can generate far more sales than what I am "giving up" which means Google and Amazon make more money, too.
Starbucks gives away apps for iOS using their promo code system... they don't do Android apps. Thousands, millions of Starbuck's customers are reminded every day why owning an Apple mobile device is a good thing, while their Android-owning customers are simply reminded how stingy Google seems to be. Sadly, the good will we developers (and Google and Amazon) could enjoy with proper promotional tools is simply never going to be there. Instead, I get to plaster my app with "Play" icons... whoopie! How exciting to remind my customers that they are stuck in a simplistic app ecosystem that won't let them enjoy freebies from developers.
By: LeeSr in [BBQ]
OK, I promised I'd have something... while waiting for the app to get final review approval to post to the webOS store, here is a video demo of the application I created:
Basically, it's kitty crack software.... cats will stare at this for ages, many will find themselves trying to pin the toy under their paw, and be rewarded when they do!
UPDATE: Virtual Cat Toys HD is now available on the three biggest markets...
Video Source: YouTube Download Video
By: LeeSr in [BBQ]
If you were lucky enough to get a Touchpad, cool... I've been working on an app for webOS, and I should be getting it to the Market soon. This one is tailored for cat lovers, and I hope it's a hit.
My next post will hopefully be able to give more details.
...as for the Touchpad, what a deal. $99 for a 16GB 10" Tablet! Rumor has it that HP will be making more of them, and I can't say it's a bad strategy if HP hopes to unload Palm to a mobile phone manufacturer, since the gain in market share will psh the value of Palm back up above any loss incurred in the "fire sale".
What I can say is that webOS is a great platform, probably the best tablet OS out there, and it would be a shame if this ends up being its swan song.
By: LeeSr in [BBQ]
This might be a little long, but I felt I needed to explain what has been happening with me in the past 6 months or so...
If you had asked me what I thought of the idea of having a cancerous tumor inside my eye, I'd probably have said that it sounds like the scariest thing I could have happen to me. In reality, it probably is one of the worst ways to get cancer... why? because it can evade detection until it is too late, and as I've read up on Ocular Melanoma, it tends to be extremely aggressive once it metastasizes. It's a "Primary Cancer" - that is, it isn't caused by other cancer in the body. Detection seems to be the main key to recovering from this sort of cancer, with treatment ranging from my own radiation therapy to removal of the eye.
In August of 2010, I went to the eye doctor for the first time in 8 years, looking to get a better prescription. During the exam, the optometrist discovered an issue with my retina, and pointed out that I had lost some of my peripheral vision in my right eye. I had "noticed" this, but I hadn't really "acknowledged" the issue since the blind spot was in my vision to the upper left of the right eye (toward the center of my brow). They took images of the spot they saw on the back of my optic nerve, and referred me to a retinal specialist. A week later, I got the bad news from the retinal specialist - the spot was a lump. They referred me to University of Michigan's Kellogg Eye Center in Ann Arbor. The retinal specialist asked if I saw any flashes, and of course, once I went to bed that night, I saw them... or at least I finally paid attention to them. "Glints" throbbing along the area of my vision where the blind spot was, i.e. at the edge of the lump over my optic nerve. Ugh... this was going to drive me nuts, between the things I ignored before, and now noticed, and the very scary thought that I might have a cancerous tumor in my eye.
My visit to the Kellog Eye center in early September brought the awful reality of the situation to full light: it was cancer. Four hours of poking and prodding... including an ultrasound that was performed directly on the surface of my eyeball. The ultrasound was not the worst thing I'd have to endure; and in retrospect, was not nearly as bad as I had envisioned. They applied numbing drops to my eye, and most of the time the probe was at the inside corner of my eye. The buzzing sound the probe made was reminiscent of a dentists drill, but logically, I knew there would be no harm done to my eye. Really, it was that thought that got me through - nothing they did to my eye would cause it any real harm. All I had to do was endure the brief periods where they needed to do something directly to my eye.
Very quickly, they scheduled radiation therapy, and before I could actually have the operation done, I also needed to get a full cancer screening to insure the cancer had not spread. A full cancer screening meant a doctor's physical, chest x-rays, liver function test, and an ultrasound or CAT scan of my abdomen. Cleared of obvious signs of the cancer spreading, I was ready for my operation. I also met with the radiologist who was preparing the radioactive plaque for implantation… I asked him if the radiation would cause other problems, given that it was essentially right next to my brain, and was assured it would not be an issue. The Ocular Oncologists had already informed me that the radiation would, however, impact my vision, since it would also kill a significant part of the “good” optic nerve.
The plan was pretty straightforward... I would go in Monday, and the doctors would implant a radioactive plaque (chip, if you prefer the term) containing a specific amount of material, directly onto my eye beneath the tumor. Some muscle would be cut and the chip was sewn into place... I was put under general anesthesia for the treatment, so I awoke with gauze taped over my eye and a “shield” in place (this was a large radiation shield, which covered about a quarter of my face). I would keep the shield over my eye, and the gauze, until the radioactive chip was removed on Friday afternoon. I was not allowed to be in the company of anybody for more than 20 or so minutes at a time, and I’d have to sleep alone to minimize exposure to others. I had painkillers to help with the dull throbbing pain from the implant, but for the most part, I felt better than I had in some time. The glints gave way to a strange sparkling that branched out around the edges of my blind spot. The strain on my left eye was bad… it was very difficult to work without taking many breaks.
On Friday, I was ready to get the radioactive chip removed. After the operation Monday, I was prepared to have them put me under, but that was when they informed me they were putting me under “MAPS” – not general anesthesia. I would “not care about it and forget about it” but I would be conscious for the operation… yikes. My anxiety level rose as they wheeled me to the operating room, but that was the last thing I remembered. As it turned out, I had pain issues, and they put me under general during the operation. Removal of the plaque was followed up by laser therapy, and I awoke about 4 hours later, the familiar gauze taped over my right eye, but thankfully, no radiation shield. I was informed I would have a follow up in a month or so to examine the eye, and that I would have two more laser therapy sessions – one in 4 months and another in 8 months. I would use Atropine drops daily in my eyes, and apply antibiotic ointment 3 times a day to the eye (by “scooping” it into my lower eyelid)
When I finally removed the gauze, I found that my vision was, well, just plain terrible in my right eye. Double-vision, and obvious weakness in muscle control, made things like driving very difficult, particularly night time driving. It took several weeks before I felt as though my vision had recovered well enough to attempt driving. Even so, eyeblinks were enough to throw my right eye “off” and skew my vision sometimes.
One of the things I noticed after the operation, when putting in the eyedrops, was a large “lava lamp-like” black blob that descended on my vision when I tilted my head back. In the course of the operation, some blood, apparently, had gotten into my eye, and I was seeing the remnants of the blood as my vitreous humor rolled around. When I figured out what this was, it didn’t bother me as much. Blood take a LONG time to absorb back into your system inside the eye. It would eventually shrink to nothing.
By the time I had my follow up exam, the right eye was still very blurry, but my overall vision wasn’t too bad (the left eye provided detail, the right eye helped with depth perception). The exam provided some positive news – the biopsy came back negative for metastasization of the tumor, and also, it was a “Type A” Colloidal Melanoma, apparently the less malignant form of the cancer. All signs pointed to a good recovery and that the cancer had not spread. The tumor was shrinking as expected, and my vision would continue to become less blurry, particularly after I stopped using the Atropine drops used to keep the eye dilated. I continued to use the ointment, as needed. Besides another ultrasound on the eyeball, I also had one scary moment when the doctor proceeded to take out a pair of tweezers and tug at a stitch that still remained on my eye!! This was more disconcerting than painful, and the doctor quickly responded by having more numbing drops put in to easy my discomfort.
By mid-November, I made an interesting discovery when out shopping with my son… though my right eye’s vision was still a bit blurry, I could see 3D (as in 3D TV) just fine. When I had been informed that I’d probably lose most of the vision in my right eye, over the next several years, I made a vow to get a new plasma HDTV with 3D capability to replace our old 720p Rear-Projection CRT TV. I had already put aside money for the purchase, so upon learning that my eyesight was good enough to enjoy 3D TV, we went ahead and purchased a Samsung 58” Plasma with the 3D extras (Shrek 3D kit with 2 glasses and a Blu-Ray player).
Now it is mid-February, and after 2 attempts, I finally got my “4 month” laser therapy done. My original appointment was on January 19, but I opted to reschedule the actual therapy until February 2nd, because the examination took too much out of me. Unfortunately, February 2nd was the day of our big storm, and I had to reschedule again (this time for the 16th).
After all the rest of it, the laser therapy caused me a bit of anxiety… the doctor had informed me that it would be painful, so I was unsure what to expect. As it turned out, the painful part turned out to be the injections they had to give me directly under my eye, performed like the dentist does in the gums. It felt worse because thee ae a lot of nerves there, and, well, it’s my eye… the squirting noises from the syringe didn’t help matters, but once they were done, my eye became immobilized and eventually, my eyelid drooped down as well. At that point, the doctor took out some sort of “lens” device, flopped open my eyelid with his thumb, and placed the lens on my eye. The eyelid dropped over the lens (there was some sort of lip around it to keep the eyelid from closing in front of it). The procedure at that point was pain-free and quick – about 10~15 minutes, with the doctor moving around his light to observe the tumor as he aimed the laser at it and burned the edges of the tumor. As he depressed the foot pedal, a tone emitted with the activation of the laser (no other sign the laser was doing anything, for me at least) and he called out different strength levels to the assistant. No pain during the therapy itself or afterward. When he was done, he pulled the device (which “plopped” out from the eyelid that was closed around it), put gauze on the eye, and I was ready to go.
My eye was frustratingly immobile until I went to sleep that night. Eyestrain was bad again, but it was only a few hours. When I awoke the next morning, I could tell my eyelids could open behind the gauze, so I removed it and beyond the blurriness, I at least had some vision in my right eye.
That was a few days ago, and my right eye is still slightly blurry, but I can read text, at least. No pain from the therapy at all.
At this point, I have one more follow up in 4 months and everything looks good for full recovery.
I’d like to add that the doctors at the University of Michigan are great, particularly Dr. Demirci. I hope my story can help others who may have to go through the same procedure… it may be daunting, but it can be endured. Please make sure you get regular eye exams, and when you something amiss, take notice! Had I not had my exam when I did, I’d probably be terminal and counting the days. I was very fortunate to also have a path of treatment that, while uncomfortable at times, was far easier than people that must undergo chemotherapy or actually have surgery to remove cancers.
One last thing before I sign off on this story for now… remember when the doctors told me the radiation would only affect my eye? I’m not too sure about that. I was looking through some digital photos we took with one of our cameras, from 2005 – and a strange cat appears in one of them, in our house (we currently have 4 cats). While my family remembers “Tigger” I do not. Not one single memory of this cat, which according to my wife, had heart problems and we eventually had to put him to sleep after several trips to the vet. How I could forget this cat is beyond me… it’s like the memory was plucked clean out of my head! My suspicion is that the radiation somehow took out a key neuron linking my memory of this cat. I have come across nothing else in my experience that might be “missing” from my memory… no technical knowledge, family members, friends… I can account for quite a bit of memory through my life, trips I’ve taken, for both vacation and work, cars I owned, etc… but this cat, “Tigger” still eludes me today. Small price to pay, I guess, for escaping death.
UPDATE: A couple of months ago I underwent my final laser therapy, and the doctor let me know that the tumor continues to shrink. Basically, it's going as good as can be expected, though I'll have to make regular checkups and cancer screenings for the rest of my life. The eyesight in my right eye is getting a little "wonky" - a little blurriness in tiny, random spots that become noticable when I close my left eye; this is due to the radiation treatment, and was expected.
By: LeeSr in [BBQ]
Anybody besides me notice that Google's searches have become sloppy to the point of being completely useless to do specific searches?
The default behavior used to be that Google would only return results for pages that contained EVERY word in your search term, unless you went into "Advanced" - but now, it may turn up thousands more hits, mostly with pages that only contain two or three of your search terms. A few years ago, this sometimes happened as people stuffed metadata into their pages to "catch" searchers, but this isn't the case with thes errant results. So what is going on with Google? Even going into "Advanced Search" and specifying the terms in the "Must Contain All These Words" entry doesn't return the correct search results.
This whole mess wouldn't bother me so much if it still managed to return useful results, perhaps with pages that had all my words in the body of the pages at the top, metadata following below those, and the partial hits past that, but often the top result contains half my keywords (and none present in metadata, including the "cached" version Google indexed, which is sometimes gamed by unscrupulous web admins to include extra data when it sees the google crawler accessing a page), and that's just unacceptable. I will start my search (pardon the pun) for a search engine that actually does what it says it's doing, returning results based on my keywords, and not some vague notion of results. I'm not sure why Google is doing this, but if Bing, or some other searh engine can provide more accurate results. It's interesting that for the 9 term search I was using, Bing returned a reasonable 1600+ results, while Google returned 23,400+, and if any of Google's actually had all 9 terms, I didn't find them in the first few hits. Yahoo returned 1200+ hits, and again, using the cached versions, found the terms I had searched on.
By: LeeSr in [BBQ]
OK, I've had to deal with numerous trojan infections on my sons' machines over the years, ad a few on my Mom's machine, as well (usually thanks to my youngest being a bit overzealous about installing downloaded programs). It's always a pain, and I'm always reminded, when I begin the long task of recovering from these infected computers, of the severe lack of effective tools when it comes to dealing with the problem.
Perhaps the biggest problem is that the evil people designing malware are just too smart, but it amazes me how spotty the anti-malware/trojan tools really are.
Hijackthis is always lauded for being such a great tool, yet all too often, checking "fix" to disable a startup item results in no action whatsoever. Most antivirus and anti-malware apps have also become victim of the "cry wolf" syndrome, insisting that many legit programs are some sort of virus-infected apps, because they may be keygens or patchers (yeah, yeah, piracy is bad, whatever, my antivirus program shouldn't be giving me inaccurate information, at any rate.). Worse, many of the apps never do a damn thing when a trojan "tweaks" policies or registry entries to disable programs.
On a recent recovery operation, MalwareBytes came through in spades (after I had manually cleaned out the trojan executables), discovering some confounding registry entries that were causing many critical apps to fail, including my antivirus app!! Made aware of this incredibly dangerous registry entry, I've decided to create my own tool, HeatSeeker, to ferret out applications that perform suspicious hooks into the system and give those of us with some bit of knowledge, a more powerful tool in rooting out infections.
I'm currently working on it, so that's all I'll say for now, but expect a post here in a few weeks. My idea is simply to suppliment the existing tools, with an app you run in Safe Mode/Administrator to find anything suspicious, and present the user with a list, and REAL INFORMATION that will allow them to make a semi-informed decision. I expect to delve deep into the internal functions of Windows to figure out what apps might be dangerous, remove those files and registry entries, and give you a fighting chance to recover your system without having to re-install Windows. Files marked as hidden, or with permissions tweaked to prevent their access will no longer be a problem.
In short, I'm sick of getting punked by the scum that write these apps, and I'm fighting back.
How will this tool be used? As I stated above, you'll run this in SAFE MODE, and after it provides a list of potential villians, you'll "fix" those villians and then run your normal suite of antivirus/malware tools to clean out the rest of it. Ideally, I'd also like to add in lspfix functionality (for trojans that hook into your network stack) and even the ability to read registry hives directly (so you can run this from a "bootable windows" disc)