Four Legs Good, Two Legs Better!

“So”, I hear you thinking, “I remember James being very anti-software bundle earlier this year. He had that spat with John Casasanta and everything. Imagine my surprise when I saw this offer in my inbox this morning – both DragThing and PCalc are part of the new MacUpdate Promo Winter Bundle. Is he a just a big capitalist sellout after all?”

Yes.

Ok, let me qualify that slightly.

Way back in June, we took part in the inaugural TheMacBundles.com bundle. The idea was a great one – this was a bundle by developers, for developers, with an equal split of the profits for all who took part. In practice however, it was something of a disappointment. Sales of the bundle were small, not down to the quality of the applications or people involved, but partially because it was going up against the much stronger MacUpdate bundle at the time, and partially because – in my opinion – it didn’t compare particularly favourably to the slick marketing efforts of MacHeist and MacUpdate.

It was mocked at the time by the ever-tactful John Casasanta of MacHeist, who basically said that without a substantial marketing budget, it was doomed. Annoyingly, he was actually right.

A couple of months ago, the MacUpdate people contacted me and asked if I wanted to be part of their winter bundle. What they offered per-bundle-sold wasn’t completely terrible – I’ve been offered a lot worse. Sales of DragThing have slowed a little bit of late since I’ve only done fairly minor updates recently, and I figured it couldn’t hurt to get it back into the public eye. And likewise, PCalc on the Mac has always been a good promotional tool for selling copies of PCalc on the iPhone.

So, fine, let’s give it a try. It’s a good bundle of apps – I fancy getting a few of them myself. I’ve been looking forward to the point-and-click adventure game Machinarium for ages, and I didn’t realise it was already out. Plus I’ve heard good things about Socialite and GarageSale, and many of the others. Path Finder is another veteran app in the bundle, and I know lots of people use that in combination with DragThing.

Will we make more money over the next two weeks than we would have otherwise? Am I damaging future sales of our apps? That remains to be seen. You can see the total number of sales of the bundle on the MUPromo page. I’m legally not allowed to tell you exactly how much of the $49.99 we’re getting, but think of a very small number. Now half it. You’re pretty much there. Feel free to multiply that by the current sales figure.

The bottom line is that our decades-old kitchen is due to be replaced in January, and it would be nice if this deal helped pay for it… Does that make me a capitalist?

Or a culinarist?

Taking A Stand

You might have seen that we have a number of new PCalc releases out today, two for the iPhone, and one more for Mac OS X. On the face of it, these might look like minor upgrades to fix a couple of annoying bugs and nothing more. Let me state here, for the record, that nothing could be closer to the truth.

Given our recent controversial moves regarding calculator word censorship, the more conspiratorially-minded amongst you might think we are using these updates as a mere smokescreen to slip in even more draconian measures. And on the face of it you would be right – PCalc now filters over three times as much profane content as before, with significantly increased detection algorithms. Don’t think you can just throw in a decimal point in the middle of a word now, we’re wise to such tricks. We’ve even added multiple-language support.

But, before you condemn me, I need to get something off my chest.

Personally, I don’t like adding these features any more than you like having your calculating freedoms curtailed, so I’ve decided to take a stand against this censorship and my cruel paymasters at TLA Systems.

In the latest version 1.8.1 for the iPhone and iPod touch, I’ve hidden a secret easter egg that lets you disable this disgraceful “feature” once and for all.

  1. Go into the “Advanced” section of the settings (or just the normal settings section in the Lite version).
  2. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page.
  3. Turn your phone upside-down.
  4. Still keeping it upside-down, you’ll now be able to scroll slightly further to reveal a brand new option.
  5. Switch censorship to “Off”.

I’ve also managed to sabotage the censorship completely in version 3.5.1 for Mac OS X – even if you turn your laptop or display completely upside down, the profanity filter will still fail to engage.

Needless to say, if word of this got out I could get in serious trouble, so this is just between us, ok?

PCalc Prevents iPhone Profanity

UPDATE: Yes, this was intended as satire.

Here at TLA Systems, we take our responsibility to protect innocent minds very seriously.

Have you, or somebody close to you, ever turned your calculator upside down and accidentally seen a mildly suggestive word? Have you ever been in a maths class, and had to put up with groups of giggling boys performing elaborate calculations that are not part of the lesson?

Yes, it’s one of the main problems affecting the calculator industry today, the so-called “calculator words”. These otherwise harmless devices can be made to display smut at the press of a few buttons. Added to that, the iPhone App Store is very strict about having inappropriate content in apps. Nobody wants their app to get a 17+ rating, or worse, to be rejected entirely.

Which is why we are happy to announce that the latest version of our PCalc scientific calculator for the iPhone contains a new patent-worthy profanity filter.

Simply enter a number such as “5318008”, turn the calculator upside down, and the offending word will be discreetly censored. Many common calculator words have been included as standard, and we plan to increase this over time via software updates.

This pioneering technology is available in both the full PCalc, as well as in the totally free PCalc Lite. Ideal for classroom settings, and for the very easily offended.

Some people might say that this is just a humourous attempt to drum up some publicity, and we should really be concentrating on the things that make PCalc one of the most popular calculators on the App Store. Like, for example, the intuitive user interface that takes full advantage of the iPhone, the optional RPN mode, or the wealth of powerful features.

Or, these same people might want us to point out that this new version comes with a coupon code that’s worth $9 off the price of PCalc for Mac OS X, effectively making PCalc for the iPhone a mere 99c if you were thinking of buying both.

But we think we know our audience.

You can find out more details at www.pcalc.com and download either of the iPhone applications here.

How To Make Your iPhone App Launch Faster

So, one of the most common complaints about PCalc before 1.7 is that it took too long to launch – around four seconds on an iPhone 1st Generation. I actually got emails accusing me of having a massive ego because I was making the splash screen stay up for so long. Now, I may have a massive ego anyway, but that’s not why it was happening.

Continue reading “How To Make Your iPhone App Launch Faster”

New iTunes Connect bug?

Update, 01:36am – this bug was just fixed in iTunes Connect, and PCalc has been submitted correctly. Thanks Apple!

Original post:

I’m currently trying to submit an update to PCalc for iPhone, built with the GM iPhone 3.0 SDK, and it’s failing. The “Contact Us” section of iTunes Connect doesn’t actually let you contact anybody, except for very specific problems, so I’m at a loss at how to proceed. I throw myself on the mercy of the crowd.

Continue reading “New iTunes Connect bug?”

Divisive Devices Part 2

How very interesting! As a follow up to the last post on device IDs.

I just renewed my iPhone developer program membership, so that I don’t forget over the summer, and in the email I just got from Apple it says under “Benefits”:

Devices: device list can be reset beginning 12 Jul 2009″

The 12th is my renewal date.

So, it’s not that deleting devices frees up a slot a year later, it’s that you have 100 devices IDs you can play with for the whole length of your year’s membership in the developer program. The next year, you get to delete them and start again.

So I’m basically stuck with what I have until July 12th. I do hope Apple doesn’t do anything like, say, release new hardware over summer…

Supply and Demand

Sorry to have been so quiet, gentle reader. I have been away on a little vacation for the last month in an attempt to recharge my creative batteries – three weeks in Japan, and another week at home to recover from the horrible jet lag that ensued. I will not bore you with my many photos of wild Totoros, but suffice to say a good time was had by all. This was our first trip abroad for many years that didn’t involve visiting Moscone West…

Continue reading “Supply and Demand”