What I…

… Did

Yoink Bugfix Update (website)
Of all the versions of Yoink I released over the past several years, 3.2 probably has been one of the most stable and bug-free so far. The closed beta might have made the difference here, perhaps I’ll do it again with future updates (for feature-releases, that is).
All stability aside, there were a couple of minor issues which I’m going to be addressing with the v3.2.1.
Currently, Yoink’s XPC process essForceTouchListener (which is used to see if any Force Touch-capable devices are available) looks for all kinds of devices, not just mice. That’s definitely an oversight on my part and will be fixed. There’s no need to look for graphics cards when all I’m interested in is a trackpad.
Also related to Force Touch, when a file was dragged out with a physical press of the Trackpad, there would be a slight delay which threw off some users. Also fixed with the next release.

Curiously, there are two bugs which are out of my hands:

  • Microsoft Outlook Crash: Sometimes, when dragging a file to a new message as an attachment from Yoink, Outlook would crash. After some testing, I found out not Yoink is causing this, but Outlook itself – the crash happens when dragging from Finder, as well. For some reason, Outlook doesn’t like files that have a ridiculously long file path (like, a file inside a twenty-folder-hierarchy). I believe it has to do with the file path’s string’s entire length. Filed a bug report with Microsoft.
  • QuickLook not working for weblocs: For weblocs, all you get is an icon of the webloc file, although Finder would load and display the website the webloc points to. For all I know, it’s a sandbox issue. Just to test things out, I tried giving Yoink access to the internet (as a client and as a server, just to be sure), and it got rid of an error message related to the issue (something about com.apple.nsurlstorage-cache), but it didn’t fix the issue at hand. Bug report filed with Apple.
More Contract Work
It’s an interesting, Austrian startup I’m doing work for (an iOS app).
I didn’t anticipate how different working for somebody would feel, as far as having to show your work is concerned.
You’d think that, as an indie developer, releasing your app into the wild, right into the hands of thousands, possibly millions of people at once would make you the most anxious you could possibly get. However, showing your work to just a handful of people in a startup is just as nerve-wrecking, if not more so. Especially when you’re given (more or less) carte blanche in terms of how the app feels and looks.
I don’t know what exactly makes those two so different. Perhaps it’s the direct feedback you get in a meeting. Or maybe it’s the dread of having to watch your opposite’s facial expression turn from a smile to a frown.
Anyway, we’ve passed the prototype / proof-of-concept stage recently and are now talking about where to go from here. I have not been fired yet, so I take that as a good sign 😉
I’m also learning a good deal about new APIs working on it: NSURLSession is amazing and I’m becoming more and more a devoted fan of AutoLayout with each and every new Storyboard or XIB I create.

… Downloaded

LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues IconLEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues (mac app store)
I prefer the first part, “The Original Trilogy”, but running it on OS X El Capitan doesn’t work, and patching it isn’t one of publisher Feral‘s top priority, according to a support mail I received from them.
So I made do with the second part instead. Besides the fourth movie, the first three are also covered (albeit, they’re “silier” than in the first game, which is kind of a pity). Overall, it’s a pretty fun game.
On the Mac, I usually only play with mouse and keyboard. Lately, I’ve been playing some games with a PS 3 controller and I must say, it makes a world of difference – and I used to be a die-hard mouse-and-keyboard player.
The only console I ever possessed was an SNES way, way back, so I never had the chance to really get used to the PlayStation or N64 controllers, which is why I prefer playing with a keyboard and mouse. But I see that changing now.

Mimpi Dreams IconMimpi Dreams (app store)
My girlfriend played the first part and loved it, and she had nothing less to say about the second installment.
“Mimpi Dreams” was a little easier than the first part, though.

Grandpa and the Zombies IconGrandpa and the Zombies (app store)
Downloaded it because it vaguely reminded me of an all-time favorite of mine: Harry – The Handsome Executive (website – not available anymore) and it is pretty fun for a short break.

Procreate Pocket IconProcreate Pocket (app store)
A powerful and feature-rich painting app. It says so in their description – and they aren’t lying.

… Read

On Subscription Fatigue (macsparky)
“I think, in general, it’s easier to pay $12 once then the thought of paying one dollar every month going forward. Now multiply that times the 20 or 30 apps that you really love and things just get crazy.”
That about sums up my thoughts on this as well. It’s interesting for one app, but since you have more than one app installed on your phone, this just becomes a hassle and unmanageable.

… Watched

Malcolm in the Middle DVD CoverMalcolm in the Middle (amazon)
I just had to start watching that show again – don’t ask me why.
To me, this is one of the best TV series ever produced. There is not a single episode I don’t like or don’t consider funny, and it makes me laugh from the beginning to the end. No downward spiral and endless carrying on just for the heck of it.
Take ‘The Big Bang Theory’ for example. The first two, maybe three (although it started there) seasons were really funny, and then “it was all downhill from there”, to quote Sheldon. Sad, but true for most of the comedy shows out there.

… Ate

Self-Made SamosasSamosas with Self-Made Tamarind- and Mango Chutney as a starter…

Rice… and Creamy Tomato-Eggplant-Rice as the main course.

… Went to See

Prater, ViennaA family trip to the Prater in Vienna. From left to right: My cousin Alex, his wife Victoria, my girlfriend Britta and me.

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… Did

Released SiriMote v1.2 (blog postwebsite)
The new version allows for putting the Mac or its displays to sleep using the Apple TV Siri Remote, is localized in German and has a few of minor improvements.

Tried a DSLR
For the birthday of my girlfriend’s mom, we bought her a DSLR (Canon EOS 1200D) and I can only say: I’m hooked.
I only ever take photos with my iPhone 5s – and I have been quite satisfied with it. But using a “real” camera again is something different entirely.
I didn’t even try too hard, and this is what came out:

Photo Shot with Canon EOS 1200D

I think I’ll have to get one myself now. It’ll probably be a Canon as well – it would just make sense since my girlfriend’s mom and I could exchange lenses then.

Contract Work
In March, I first considered doing contract work until I ultimately decided not to do it because of the project being too big (blog post).
A little while ago, though, I was contacted by a former colleague about a possible collaboration on an iOS app and I decided to take it.
There’s not much I can say about it yet, other than that the team is great and full of spirit. I’m quite happy to be on board.

… Didn’t Do That I Had Planned

Gestures in SiriMote v1.2
Using private APIs, I’ve been able to observe touches on the Apple TV Siri Remote’s trackpad.
However, I haven’t been able to turn those into gestures yet – simple gestures, which is all I’m planning to support with SiriMote. I wish I had been able to release it with version 1.2, but the lack of time was a severe hinderance.

… Downloaded

The Witcher IconThe Witcher: Enhanced Edition (gog)
Both The Witcher and its sequel, The Witcher 2, were (and currently still are) on sale 85% off on gog.com, so I purchased them. I’ve played about the first 30 minutes of the first game and I like it so far. I’m pretty much going into this blind as I haven’t been following The Witcher series at all. I’ve only played the board game with my brother and cousins. It’s confusing as heck due to its complexity. But it’s fun. So is the video game.

The Witcher 2 IconThe Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition (mac app store, gog)
Because I haven’t finished the first game, I have yet to play this sequel. But again, it was (and still is) on sale, so how could anyone go wrong 😉

Uncharted: Fortune Hunter IconUncharted: Fortune Hunter (app store)
Strongly reminds me of Lara Croft GO (app store). But that’s not at all a bad thing!

Ancient Aliens IconAncient Aliens (app store)
A “city-builder” game not without its flaws, but Giorgio A. Tsoukalos’ alter-ego’s grimaces alone make it worth your while.

… Read

Software solves the mystery of a 2,500 year-old poem by Sappho (arstechnica)
Using clues from the poem itself, they used astronomer’s software to find out when exactly it was written.

Hear AI play Beethoven like The Beatles (techcrunch)
What it sounds like when artificial intelligence learns to play “Ode to Joy” in the style of the Beatles’ “Penny Lane” (and more).

My App got Some Press And Here’s What I Learned (medium)
Some insight into how to pitch to blogs like TechCrunch.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Review (polygon)
I don’t own a PS 4, but this game makes me wish I did. I actually borrowed my girlfriend’s brother’s PS 3 so I could borrow the first three instalments from my cousin and play them. I’m halfway through the first game now and I’ve been enjoying every single second of it.

A Brain Dump of What I Worked on for Uncharted 4 (allenchou)
Interesting insights on some of the systems built for Uncharted 4.

How They Made Warcraft Into a Movie (polygon)
A short behind-the-scenes look into the upcoming Warcraft movie.

Eric Clapton Talks Making of “Slowhand” and his Spontaneous New LP (rollingstone)
Great interview.

SimCity 2013’s Creative Director Explains What Went Right and What Went So, So Wrong (polygon)
I read all the headlines and held back on buying it, purchasing it maybe half a year later and haven’t played it much since then. For me, SimCity 2000 has always been where it’s at. Maybe SimCity 4.

How big an Issue is the Nausea Problem for Virtual Reality Products? (quora)
“The US Navy believes that some people shouldn’t drive a car within one or two DAYS of being inside a VR environment!”

… Watched

PC vs. Mac for Video Editing (youtube)
Spoiler: The Mac (with Final Cut Pro X) does very well.

Apple Uses Spite to Force Planned Obsolescence. Watch $750 Tier 4 Repair Performed With $2 in Parts (youtube)
What a shame.

The Team Behind Siri Debuts its Next-Gen AI “Viv” at Disrupt NY 2016 (youtube)
Includes an interesting look into how it works.

Pre-Touch Sensing for Mobile Interaction (youtube)
Know how the user is gripping the device, as well as when and where fingers are approaching it.

… Ate

IMG 4859Spicy Mango-Chicken Rice

… Went to See

Donauturm ViennaMy cousin bungee-jumped off the Donauturm in Vienna, and we all went to see and cheer him on.
He survived. We all died, though.

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Welcome to the first anniversary edition of “What I…”. I can’t believe it’s been a year already, it feels so much shorter.

Another busy month comes to a close.

The bulk of this month obviously went into Yoink 3.2, but with a release also comes all of this other work you need to do – update the Mac App Store page, perhaps add new screenshots, think about keywords, update the website, write a blog post about it or create a newsletter mail… Release-days are busy. Long story short, after the work is done, there is so much more work to do…
Aside from all of that, though, I’ve also been trying to learn and get into Auto-Layout, which I’ve been neglecting far too long only to now realize it’s the most beautiful thing in the world, when it comes to localizing and internationalizing your app. It’s a godsend.

I also had to tip my toes into PHP again. I’ve had to do that every now and then (way back when I was still selling flickery outside the Mac App Store and had to communicate with PayPal somehow), so it’s nice to get back to it and work in a language other than Objective-C for a change. (ahem. Swift. ahem. I’ll have to get to that as well. Any day now.)

Let’s get into what I…

… Did

Finished up and released Yoink v3.2 (website, Mac App Store)
After a long time working on it (I checked, I last updated Yoink early in September 2015), I was finally able to give the green light for the latest update to Yoink.
If you follow this blog, you know what I’ve been through with this release 😉
I blogged about what’s new here.
As far as I can tell, it’s been very well received (I might do a short blog post about some coverage of it later).
Here’s a very nice review of the new version on the Mac App Store:

Review of Yoink 3.2 on the Mac App StoreA recent review of Yoink on the Mac App Store (powered by launchkit.io)

I changed a couple of things regarding Yoink’s Mac App Store page.
I read about ASO (App Store Optimization) and realized I was wasting a perfect opportunity for additional keywords: The app’s display name (the name that appears on the Mac App Store). Up until now, it was just “Yoink” – so I changed it to “Yoink – Simplify and Improve Drag and Drop”. That gives me the keywords “drag” and “drop” for free, so there’s more place now in the actual keywords field.

Furthermore, I gave Yoink much-needed new App Store Screenshots.
This is what screenshots looked like before…

Old Mac App Store Screenshot of Yoink

… and this is what they look like now:

New Mac App Store Screenshot of Yoink

There were a couple of things important to me:

  1. Readability. I don’t know what I was thinking with the old screenshots there
  2. Yoink being displayed running on a Mac.
  3. Improved wording
  4. Kind of a vanity thing, but I wanted to have ESSPurple (my “company color”) in the shots.
I’m pretty happy with how they turned out, especially that they’re cleaner and less busy. I’m not sure what I thought when I created the old screenshots. Those mountains sure draw a lot of attention.

Fun fact: Because so much changed between Yoink 3.1 and 3.2, I actually exceeded the limit of 4,000 characters in iTunes Connect’s “What’s New” section – by 2,000 characters. That was the entire “Bug fixes” section, so it had to go, and got replaced with “Numerous Bugfixes”. There were about twenty, which I’d have loved to list, just to give a complete account of what changed.

Apple’s review process was surprisingly painless (as in, no rejections) and quick (as in, two days. Two!)
I submitted the update early (on April 13th), to make sure that, if anything cataclysmic happened, I’d have enough time to sort it out. Thankfully, that extra time wasn’t needed.
What made me a little concerned was that I introduced two XPC services in this release (one that looks for any Force Touch capable devices and another one that handles newsletter subscriptions).
I thought especially the Force Touch XPC service might give me some trouble.
So I painstakingly explained which sandbox entitlements I used and how, which I think helped a great deal in getting this update reviewed as quickly as it was (plus, lower review times seem to be a trend recently – currently around two days), with no rejections.

Regarding press releases, I’ve made it a habit to send them out a week early with an “embargo”, to give members of the press time to first of all get to the email in time (as they surely receive tons of mails every day) and to prepare something if they liked it. I updated the press kit (nothing major, just added the new screenshots and a .webloc to the Usage Tips page).

Come release-day, I first released the app on iTunes Connect (it always takes a little time for the App Store to “realize” that the update was released). In the meantime I posted the blog entry I had prepared earlier for the update and when I thought the update was populated on the Mac App Store, sent out the newsletter to my subscribers (if you’d like to, you can subscribe here) and started talking about it on twitter and in my Facebook group.

All in all, I’m very happy with how the release went. It can always be better, but I can not complain.

Updated Yoink’s Website and Usage Tips Page (website, usage tips)
Along with the app, I wanted to update the website as well. Mainly because I wanted to mention Force Touch, and partly because the more you scrolled down on the website, the more of a mess it became.
Starting at the top of the website, I decided to move the customer and press reviews down a little. While I think they’re very important, as they show what real people using the app think about it, they’re not as important as an intro to what the app does.
Before (again coming down from the top), you had Yoink’s icon with a short blurb, the download and purchase buttons and right below that, selected reviews.
On the new site, what you see below the buttons is a nice “photo” of Yoink running on a MacBook Pro (with a background image that’s one of the complementary colors of purple to draw attention to it). Then come the reviews.
So now you have an intro to the app and below that, how nice people think the app is. I believe that works much better.
Furthermore, I tried to condense the site a little, it kind of felt like an endless scrolling website before, without real structure, almost like “what else can I quickly paste randomly on this website I think might be important”?
So I introduced “boxes”, like this one, in an attempt to give a little structure to the site:

Yoink Website Box

Previously, the features listed here were in a long list with a couple of screenshots and gifs, not at all attractive. I’m not a hundred percent happy with this either, but if you ask me, it’s way better than before.
I’ve applied the same “boxed” approach to the tips page, in order to condense it a little (it was also a long list) and give it a fresher look, in line with the app’s main page.
Lastly, I’ve added a newsletter signup form to the bottom of the page (and to the top right “Quick Links” list), because #GrowthHacking.

Learning Auto Layout, with SiriMote (website)
As I said in the intro to this post, I’ve been pushing off getting to know Auto Layout for far too long – though, in my defence, my apps have all been running with NSView’s auto resizing and I didn’t really have the time or need to switch.
Anyway, now that I have started using Auto Layout (in SiriMote, just because it’s my smallest project and it doesn’t have anything too complex, UI wise), I don’t want to go back.
There’s so much magic happening behind the scenes here:

SiriMote AutoLayout Test (Short string)SiriMote AutoLayout Test (long string)

Now I only have one xib (because I also switched to base-localization instead of having one xib for each language) and when I change a string in a language, I don’t have to go through every UI element in the xib and move things around to make it fit – Auto Layout does it for me. Ah, the future. It’s so nice.

I’ve also gone a step further and tried animating the window solely by changing the constraints, not manipulating the window’s frame directly.
So far, it works and – after some work, as I came to understand constraints better – now looks just like before.

Featured in LaunchKit’s Launch Therapy Issue #8 (issue #8)
My post on getting featured on the Mac App Store in the “Get Productive” promotion made its way into launchkit’s excellent newsletter, Launch Therapy.
Having that kind of a reaction to something I wrote is very encouraging, and I hope I can improve my writing in a way that it gets featured even more 😛

BeautifulPixels ScreenFloat Sponorship (beautifulpixels)
After having sponsored BeautifulPixels for a week with Yoink, I ran another campaign, this time featuring ScreenFloat.
Yoink performed slightly better, but I attribute that to my inability to clearly communicate what ScreenFloat actually does. I’m trying to improve, but I struggle with it a fair bit.
“Floating screenshots” just doesn’t make clear how convenient it actually is, or doesn’t imply what can be done with it.
I must find a nicer way to describe the app.

Scripting in PHP
As you may know by now, I’ve started a newsletter. People interested in it can subscribe through the website, or through my apps’ about windows.
What I didn’t think of beforehand, though: what if I need to change the newsletter service I’m using, for whatever reason? Or what if the API changes? I’d need to put out an update just to make the app use the API of the new service.
That’s kind of inconvenient. So I decided to write a small php script that talks to the service’s API, put it on my own server and make my apps communicate with that php script instead of with the service’s API directly.
Now I have the freedom to switch the API behind the scenes, or update the API calls, should they change.
Still, some of the damage is done already, since I didn’t think of this before releasing Yoink 3.2, for example, or SiriMote. I’ll still have to update those apps once to make them use my php script, but from then on, it should be smooth sailings.

Adding more Character and Branding to my Applications
After adding some color and character to my website and about windows (see here), I decided to use ESSPurple a little more.
For all my apps (besides Transloader), I’m offering demos. When the trial period is over, an alert panel is shown. But that’s just lazy, and potentially not nice to look at.
That got me thinking: Perhaps it would benefit from some color. This is what I came up with:

New Trial Over notice in my applicationsYoink 3.2’s Demo Over Notice

And, as I wrote above, the Mac App Store Screenshots also received an update.

… Didn’t Do

Register for WWDC (apple)
I’ve been thinking a lot about whether or not I should apply for a ticket to Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference this year. After all, it is the best place to meet people in the industry and community. It’s also very valuable to be able to talk to Apple’s developers directly.
Even if I didn’t get a ticket, there’s usually a lot of other conferences and get-togethers around during the time of the conference.
But the flight alone would cost upwards of €1,000, and the hotels in San Francisco are insanely expensive. There’s no way I could justify that expense, to be honest.
I think Apple should announce WWDC earlier, not a ~month before the event. The beginning of the year would be good – flight tickets would cost less and it might even help with hotel prices.
Who knows, maybe next year.
Alternatively, I’m now thinking of attending one of Apple’s Tech Talks, either in London or somewhere in Germany (because they don’t have them here in Austria). My first choice would be London, just because I love it there. But I’ll make it dependent on who goes where. If more people go to Germany, then that’s where I’ll be going as well.

… Blogged About

Developer Tip: How to Install the Ink System Preferences Pane Without a Graphics Tablet (blog post)
In some cases, you need to test your apps with OS X’s built in handwriting recognition (called Ink) enabled.
This post shows you how to enable it, even if you don’t have a graphics tablet handy.

Under-the-Hood Improvements in Yoink 3.2 (blog post)
A technical blog post about what changed under the hood in Yoink 3.2, showing how I was able to improve the app’s performance and memory usage.

… Downloaded

Safari Technology PreviewSafari Technology Preview (apple)
A good alternative to the webkit’s nightly builds, as it also includes upcoming browser features, not just the latest version of the browser’s foundation, WebKit.
It’s amazingly fast.

TelegramTelegram (mac app store)
I was invited to partake in a survey, but it had to be over Telegram, so I downloaded it. Alas, for registration, they wanted my phone number, so in the Trash it went. Sorry, Telegram, nice try. That’s why I don’t use What’sApp, either.

Shade App IconShade (mac app store)
Quickly hide files on your desktop. Useful when you need to create screenshots or videos of your Mac.

Miitomo App IconMiitomo (app store)
A fun little “game” by Nintendo where you answer questions about yourself and friends.

Disney Crossy Road App IconDisney Crossy Road (app store)
You know Crossy Road. You know Disney. A perfect fit. Fun game.

… Read

Apple Developer Insights Webpage (apple)
Success stories of successful developers.

The iOS App Marketing Strategy Guide (apptamin)
“Everything we know about launching and marketing an iPad or iPhone app.”

5,000 Developers Talk About Their Salaries (freecodecamp)
Interesting insights. “The more you work, the more you get paid.”

How to Write App Descriptions That Sell (yalantis)
“There are three components of an app’s ‘definition’: its Name, its Description in the marketplace and Screenshots.”

Like It Is: Bob Dylan Explains What Really Killed Rock’n’Roll (cuepoint)
“… the genre was being commercially segregated, on the sly, into white (British Invasion) and black (soul) music by the (WASPy) establishment.”

Developers Switch to Subscription Prices to Move From a Consumer Audience to a Business One (macworld)
More and more apps seem to be switching to subscription-based business models. I wonder if it’s more sustainable than the “classic” approach of selling software, considering the backlash it caused for TextExpander’s developer Smile Software, for example.

Humanity's Extraterrestrial Origins Book CoverHumanity’s Extraterrestrial Origins (amazon)
An interesting, maybe amusing look at life from the other side of science. I wouldn’t take this at face value, but it makes you think for sure.

… Listened To

Core Intuition Podcast (website, itunes)
Lately, I’ve been enjoying the CoreInt podcast.

Leo Laporte Interviews Bill Atkinson (youtube)
About the early days of the Macintosh. A wonderful interview.

… Watched

FAN Movie PosterFAN (imdb)
Shah Rukh Khan’s latest movie. One of his finest roles, acting-wise, in our opinion. What’s unusual about this bollywood-movie is the absence of dance-numbers and songs. It’s all about the story this time 😉

The Jungle Book Movie PosterThe Jungle Book (itunes)
The live-action adaption of the Disney animated classic.
My girlfriend and I enjoyed it a lot, though we both thought the songs felt out-of-place and didn’t fit with the movie. They should not have included them to make this a film in its own right. And even then – nothing beats the classic!

… Ate

Vegetable Enchiladas with self-made Potatoe ChipsVegetable Enchiladas with self-made Potato Chips

… Went to See

Sadly, I didn’t have a lot of time this month to go out and see places (though my girlfriend and I did go to see my Alma Mater, the University of Vienna, to see what’s new 😉 ), so please accept these cute photos of my girlfriend’s mom’s adorable dog, Lucky, instead.

Dog YawningDog staring

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