transloader

OS X 10.11 El Capitan

I’m happy to say that all my applications, Yoink, Glimpses, ScreenFloat, Transloader and flickery are compatible with OS X 10.11 “El Capitan” and work perfectly on Apple’s new operating system, which will be released tomorrow, September 30th.

I’ve tested all my apps on the Golden Master of the upcoming Mac system upgrade and haven’t found any showstoppers or issues.

Should you, however, discover anything you feel is a bug, an annoyance or an issue, please be sure to get in touch with me either by mail, twitter or Facebook – I highly appreciate your help.

I hope you’ll enjoy tomorrows upgrade of OS X, I know I am very much looking forward to it!

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With yet another month behind us (time flies recently, doesn’t it?), it’s time for another entry in my “What I…” series of blog posts. This time, somehow dental care made its way into it.

… Worked On

Website Update (click)
I felt the need to update my website again. On the landing page, you used to have to scroll to see all the applications available. I didn’t particularly like that. Also, the buttons just didn’t look good. Have a look:

eternalstorms.at before updateeternalstorms.at before its recent update

With the recent update, I moved everything around, chose a nicer, easier to read font (Helvetica Neue Ultra Light probably wasn’t the best choice) and removed the buttons:

eternalstorms.at after recent updateeternalstorms.at after the recent update

You can see how much space I saved solely by scaling the Eternal Storms Software logo and moving it off to the side (which makes it less obvious, sure, but a lot nicer to look at). What’s always important to me on a website is a way to contact the people in charge. I cannot say how much I hate (and I use that word with all its meaning) websites where I have to dig through to get some contact information. So at the top left, you have a button to contact me by mail or twitter and visit my Facebook group. At the right hand side, you can reach my blog, the press page and About/Legal information.
I also hate contact forms. Why hide your mail? From spammers? They’ll get to you anyway. Just give me your email and I can write you from within the comfort zone of my preferred email client. Nothing better than that.

A click onto an app icon or the app’s description will take you to the app’s page, of course:

Yoink's website after the updateYoink’s website after the update

I don’t want to overwhelm browsers with too much information up front. A page filled with text can easily scare people away.
So what you see at first is the icon, a short tagline and a Download and Purchase button. Below that, I thought it’d be a nice idea to feature some customer and press reviews to let potential buyers see what people who have used the app thought about it.
Below that, you’ll be greeted by a short screencast and the app’s full description and functionality. If you decide to skip the screencast, there’s a quick GIF of Yoink in action to give you the gist of it.

It took me a couple of days to settle on the colors of the buttons. I started with green and blue, then tried a light shade of purple and blue:

Screenshot of iWeb 25 08 2015 22 44 30
Screenshot of iWeb 25 08 2015 22 37 34

It’s nice, but taking the #ESSPurple background into account, neither the green, grey-ish purple or blue worked that well.
The buttons are much more identifiable as such than the previously used chalk-outline ones (see first screenshot).

For Yoink, I also started a new Quick Tips website, showcasing some lesser-known features.

Yoink Quick Tips Website (click)
It’s kind of a FAQ section. I often got eMails asking how to easily select all files inside Yoink or how to copy files out of Yoink instead of moving them.
Yoink’s Quick Tips website displays simple tricks like copying and selection, but more complex ones, too, like using Automator in conjunction with Yoink or adding files to Yoink from the Terminal/Shell.

Yoink 3.1 (to be released on September 3rd 2015)
I’ve been working on an update for Yoink which, most importantly, is now localized into additional great languages, like Japanese, Simplified Chinese and Korean (you can find the complete list in the release notes or on Yoink’s website).
Some localizations were “donations” by awesome users of Yoink (Korean, Portuguese (Portugal) and Italian), the others were done by professional localizers via iCanLocalize and BRlingo, which I can both highly recommend.
Besides being localized into new languages, the update provides a cleaner, less cluttered interface, many improvements and bugfixes.

Transloader 2.2.2 (iOS) (click)
Transloader for iOS received a bugfix update, fixing some minor stuff in its Today Widget and Action Extension and URL schemes. The Mac app hasn’t received an update yet.

Reach ZEN – Update (click)
I worked on an update for my cousin’s iPhone and iPad game Reach ZEN, fixing a couple of bugs and interface issues. Most importantly, In-App Purchases are working now 😛
In the game, you turn a cube with random numbers on it, selecting sides that add up to ten in under ten seconds. It’s thrilling and peaceful at the same time – go check it out 🙂

… Didn’t Work On

Swift Language
At some point, I’d like to get into Swift programming. But I don’t see the point in re-writing my apps to use Swift – it doesn’t really provide any use to users, other than knowing that something was built with the “new shiny”.
Hearing stories about how code stops working after an update to the Swift language doesn’t help things, either. When I write something, I want to be sure it works with the next release of the language it was written in.
That is not to say I’m not going to develop apps using Swift – but for now, I’m waiting for a release where I know that from that point on, things don’t change fundamentally and code keeps working over releases.

… Did

My girlfriend and I went to the dentist. For me, it was the first time in 15 years, easy (I know, I’m an idiot). But it went far better than I thought, considering the time span.
Three cavities (one has already been taken care of with two kind of drills and a filling) and one wisdom tooth that’s coming out the wrong way and needs to be surgically removed at some point (that X-Ray was quite shocking, to be honest).
Still, I’ve never had such a pleasant dentist visit. She was very comforting, careful and explaining what she did all the way through. The next appointment is in two weeks where the next tooth is getting fixed (by drilling, I hope).

… Downloaded

Angry Birds 2 icon, RovioAngry Birds 2 (click)
A worthy successor to the game that started it all. It’s entertaining and fun and pretty much sticks to what made the first game great.
I’m not very far into it due to lack of time, but it is a nice way to relax a little.

Pac-Man 256 IconPac-Man 256 (click)
I didn’t play much of it yet, but it’s Pac-Man – what can go wrong? 😛
I did get to the “Glitch” stage and died pretty soon afterwards and haven’t played it since – to be honest, I’d rather play Crossy Roads.

… Read

Swift – The Genius of Protocols (click)
This article provides a nice look into Protocols in Swift.
I’m not using Swift for anything yet and have only put my pinky toes into the vast sea that is this new programming language, but I do enjoy reading about what it has to offer.

Intro To GCD (Grand Central Dispatch) (click)
I’m familiar with how GCD works and I make extensive use of it, but it never hurts to read up on something you think you know. This is a multi-part series about GCD and if you’re a Mac / iOS developer, I suggest you check it out.

The increasingly long lives of old Macs (click)
Something I’m very thankful for, working on a retina MacBook Pro from 2012 and a 20’’ Apple Cinema Display from ca. 2004.
And OS X El Capitan will give it at least one more year of usage – including the new Metal framework (Macs starting from 2012 are supported, so my rMBP barely made it).

How Runic Games was Reborn After Torchlight: The Story Behind Hob (click)
The story behind a new game from Runic Games and how it deviates from previous games they made while having to deal with key people leaving the company.

… Listened To

Liftoff Podcast (click)
“Liftoff is a fortnightly podcast about space, the universe, and everything.”
I’m kind of into Astronomy, it’s a “hobby” of mine, if you can call it a hobby.
The podcast just started, they’re at episode 2 (episode 3 if you count the intro episode) and it’s been very interesting.

… Watched

Why CG Sucks (Except It Doesn’t) (click)
A short video about why we think CG in movies sucks, but it really doesn’t.

… Ate

Tomato PizzaSelf-Made Tomato Pizza with Garlic

… Went to See

My girlfriend and I were at quite a few places this month 😉

Schallaburg, Viking ExhibitionViking Exhibition at Schallaburg

Setagayapark in Doebling, ViennaSetagayapark in Vienna, Döbling.
Between Doebling, a district of Vienna and Setagaya in Tokio, there has been a year-long friendship and cultural agreement.
Out of that, this park was created. Planned by Ken Nkajima.

Haus des Meeres (House of the Sea)Haus des Meeres / House of the Sea, Vienna.

Aninite Convention SchwecahtAniNite Convention, Schwechat
Way more people (and cosplayers) than last year.

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That’s a question I’ve been asking myself ever since I started releasing software to the public.

Googling “When to send a press release”, I get articles talking about on what specific weekday to send it or at what time of day.
Or “send a press release when you have something newsworthy”.

Although that is good advice – never send anything not newsworthy, you’ll just alienate people – that’s not the subject of this blog post.

What I mean by ‘When’ is: should I send a press release a couple of days before I release an app or on the same day?
And yes, it is an “either – or” kind of situation. I’ve been told by journalists I asked if it’s cool to follow up a week after (or send the press release again) – definitely don’t do that.

Non-Embargoed Press Releases

To issue press releases the same day I release the app itself always felt natural to me. I’ve been doing it for as long as I’ve released software.
No advance notice, no follow up – just “send it and forget it”. I want to get the news out when it’s fresh and hot and when it’s available for everyone to download.

Control Is An Illusion

Front and foremost, it gives me this feeling of ‘control’. When sending out a press release the day of, I feel like I’m on the mind of the journalist and like they’re more inclined to write about my app since it is “fresh off the press” and just happened. And there might be some truth to that as I’ve seen good results with that approach. But you never have any control to speak of. That’s an illusion.

Secondly, there’s the App Store Review process. It takes time. So once the review is done and the app has been approved, I’m usually very eager to get the app out the door as soon as possible and not have to wait around a couple of days more to be able to send out press releases ahead of time.
I also don’t want to send out a press release while the app is still in review – that’s got ‘catastrophe’ written all over it.
If you send out a press release with an embargo only to have your app rejected some time later, you’ll have to issue a redaction and that’s just hideously tedious. It’s a one-way-ticket onto the journalist’s blacklist.
Even though there are apps for checking the average review times for the iOS and Mac App Stores, it’s just too uncertain in my opinion.

Forget me not

It’s not fun to spend hours writing a decent press release, send it out early to members of the media just to find out they forgot about it come the actual date of the app release. This is probably not much of an issue with bigger news sites and blogs that have systems in place for embargoed press releases, but smaller blogs run by independent reviewers might do all this by hand, so things might slip their minds.

Sending press releases with an embargo also has the risk of of the news leaking.
You send out your news with an embargo of one week, but that doesn’t mean that every member of the media is going to respect that – they might publish early to break the news first (a problem I assume only bigger companies face who’s news appeals to a broader audience than mine, a small indie developer’s press release; but nonetheless, it’s still something to be wary of).
I hear that embargoes aren’t legally binding, so be wary of that as well. 

Embargoed Press Releases

With everything you’ve read by now, you might think sending a press release beforehand might not be a good idea. And you’re right, a lot of it speaks against it (although it depends heavily on each individual case).

But there is one thing about it that appeals to me more and more the longer I ponder it – with a press release you send early, you give your potential reviewers time.

Time for Preparation

Imagine being a journalist, getting a couple dozen press releases each day (or more) and some of them are to be released on the same day. There’s simply no way you could check out all those apps and publish on the same day. Pressed for time, a journalist might be inclined to just post the entire or edited press release, publish late or not post about it at all. But a full review is out of the question, that’s for sure.

If you issue that press release a week early, though, you’re helping out not only the journalists you’re addressing, but also yourself.
You give the greatest gift there is: time.

Time to check out your app in detail, less in a hurry to get to the next press release, because they do pile up, I’m sure.
Time to use the app for a few days, should they decide to cover it and get a deeper look at how the app works and feels.
Time to experience details about the app that make it stand out over its competitors.
Time to get more details about the app, e.g. check out the app’s Press Kit; ask you for more details if something isn’t clear or if they have any questions in general.

I believe that is invaluable for all parties involved.

Testing Embargoed Press Releases

To put this to a test, for the release of Transloader 2.1, I sent out the press release one week ahead of the release and the result has been way better than I thought. As I wrote before, I sent out PR with the bad aftertaste of thinking it would be forgotten on the actual day of the release.

But that was not the case. Quite the contrary, actually.

After sending out an embargoed PR, I pretty soon received requests for promo codes to an extent I have not experienced before. That might be attributed to the extended time frame they had for reviews, given the embargo. I imagine journalists don’t bother asking for promo codes if they don’t have the time to really look at the app anyway.

The embargo itself worked very well, not one site posted early. I used the following wording (in bold print) right before the press release body

Embargo: Please do not publish before March 10th, 2015

I think I will take out the “Embargo:” part, though, it sounds kind of demanding.

Among others, MacNNc|net and the german site MacGadget posted favorable reviews of Transloader and @MacTrast called it their iOS App of the Day.

All in all, it went very well and I’m very satisfied with how it turned out.

Conclusion

I will be moving to embargoed press releases from now on. The benefits of giving journalists some time to check out your app by far outweighs the disadvantages listed above and I think it engaged journalists more.

And that’s what press releases are all about.

—-

My name is Matt, I’m the developer of Eternal Storms Software. If you’d like to comment, you can catch me on twitter here: [twitter-follow screen_name=’eternalstorms’ show_count=’yes’] or by eMail.

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