Archive for category bonsai

2019 Retrospective

It’s hard to believe, but it’s now 2020! And just as I’ve done every year for the past decade, it’s time to take a look back at 2019 with my annual year-in-review post.

Overall, 2019 was a decent year for me, even with its challenging times (the day job, especially!).

Fitness-wise I regressed terribly, due to not making the time to exercise enough, and not getting our treadmill fixed. That’s on my to-do list for 2020 😉 Despite that, I’m still reasonably healthy, albeit with the usual aches and pains of age.

Last year we lost another beloved family pet. Our old cat (15 years) had been kicking around for several years now with poor eyesight, no purr, some strange nerve issues, and at least 3 close brushes with death, one of which we think might have been a stroke. The latter event finally put an end to his outdoor adventures, since he had no further desire to go outside. In his final few weeks he seemed to be more affectionate than usual, right up until his last moments. My wife and son witnessed the end and knew he was gone before they even took him to the vet. He leaves behind a family who will greatly miss him, along with two other cats that occasionally seem to wonder where he went. Hopefully they will stick around for a good many years yet!

I still enjoy my Magic: The Gathering card game hobby, though I haven’t played in any tournaments since last summer when my local game store closed down. That was a tough blow, especially since there are no closer stores that I enjoy visiting. It’s the 2nd store that’s closed since I’ve started playing! I still play online via MTG Arena (on PC), but it’s not quite the same as playing face-to-face. Recently a new game store has opened further afield, started by one of the guys I used to play against in tournaments over the years. I’m hoping to at least be able to attend prerelease events there in the coming year.

My Magic card unboxing / gameplay YouTube channel is still around, surpassing 7000 subscribers in 2019. It has had over 6 million minutes watched since I started it in July 2017, and over 1.2 million views. I still find these numbers staggering! With strong support from patrons (via Patreon) and modest ad revenue, the channel mostly covers its costs. I’m hoping it’ll continue to grow this year, despite the challenging and ever-changing landscape that is YouTube.

My second YouTube channel (started in May 2018) is another unboxing one related to Funko Pop figures. Aside from the unboxings, I also typically add some silly skits (with special effects) in each episode. That channel passed 1.2k subscribers last year, though it still has a long way to go to reach the minimum monetization thresholds. While this channel is a lot of fun, I’ve started to neglect it lately due to lack of time. Thankfully views haven’t dropped to zero yet, so the YouTube algorithm must still be promoting my older videos!

As with 2018, my fiction writing was non-existent. I simply didn’t have the time or motivation to get back into it. The only way that’s likely to change is if I wind down my YouTube channels, along with the ongoing work on my apps. I feel a bit sad about this, since I’ve spent a good many years of my life wanting to be a writer, yet making little progress.

Last year I again took part in the Goodreads Reading Challenge, but ended up miles from my goal. My reading was exclusively in eBook form. Here are my (paltry) reads for 2019:

Fire Water by Domino Finn
Death March by Domino Finn
Shadow Deal by M. L. McKnight

Can you tell I like to read Urban Fantasy?

Now for some stats:
2019 Stats:

New apps released: 0
App updates released: 3 (includes Lite and Paid versions)
YouTube videos released: 516
YouTube channel subscribers: 4,307
Books read: 3

My iOS, Mac and PC app sales continue to decline. I only released 3 app updates last year, including one for Bonsai Album PC, and updates for the Lite and paid versions of the iOS version. I’ve been struggling to update my apps since the iPhone X release, since there are now a whole slew of new iPhones and iPads with different screen variations. It didn’t help that my old Mac was no longer supported by the development tools, and I had to scrape together funds for a brand new Mac mini this year. Now that I’ve got the new Mac and have spent a bunch of time on the Bonsai Album iOS updates (released last week), I’m finally in good shape to get to work on updating my remaining apps. If only the screenshot automation tools worked and I didn’t have to manually take several hundred screenshots for each app in multiple languages! Since revenue was way down and expenses were way up (hello new Mac!), 2019 was a bad year for my apps. From past experience, updates unfortunately don’t move the needle on sales either. And people wonder why my apps don’t get updated very frequently these days!

Like 2019, my bonsai hobby pretty much just consists of keeping my remaining trees alive. I’m down to a handful of tropical trees, with the rest having perished due to harsh winters or pests. I didn’t attend any bonsai shows, though we did visit Morton Arboretum several times to see the magnificent Autumn colours.

I spent a fair bit of time in the garden this year, growing the usual selection of veggies (tomatoes, peppers, peas, beans, cucumbers, and zucchini). We had some crop failures, including the peas, beans, and peppers. I suspect that was due to planting them so late. I didn’t bother with potatoes this time around either (too much work). Still, there’s nothing like veggies picked fresh from the garden!

Last year was another good year for travel. In addition to our trips back and forth to Michigan (including one work trip for training), we also went on a great American road trip with my parents! I visited Canada for the first time, driving to Niagara Falls and doing all the touristy stuff there, including visiting the town of Niagara on the Lake and the nearby fort. Back in the US, in Michigan we visited the Motown museum, Ford Piquette Avenue plant, and Frankenmuth. We also spent some time touring Niagara Falls on the US side, Old Fort Niagara, the Amanda Gish B&B in Elizabethtown PA, the chocolate museum in Hershey PA, the Civil War battleground town of Gettysburg, the Historic (and haunted!) 1757 Fairfield Inn, Harpers Ferry WV, George Washington’s estate in Mount Vernon VA, and the Frank Lloyd Wright architectural marvel that is Fallingwater, in rural Pennsylvania.

So that was my 2019. Not half bad! I’m long past setting New Year’s resolutions, but I would like to exercise a great deal more this year, and read a bunch more books than I managed last year.

I hope everyone had a great year, and I wish you all the best for 2020. Happy New Year!

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Bonsai Album v3.5 update now available for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch

Bonsai Album makes keeping track of your bonsai or penjing collection easy, whether you’re new to bonsai, a collector, a dealer, or even a bonsai master.

Bonsai Album

This update contains the following changes:

  • Improved iOS 13 support.
  • Added support for new devices.
  • Bug fixes.

If you’re enjoying the app, please take a moment to rate or review it on the App Store!

You can learn more about Bonsai Album at my website or on the Bonsai Album Facebook group.

Tags: , , , , , ,

2018 Retrospective

It’s 2019! And with the arrival of the New Year, it’s time to take a look back at 2018 with my annual year-in-review post.

2018 was a good year for me, even with its fair share of ups and downs.

Fitness-wise I didn’t do quite as well as 2017, thanks to our treadmill breaking down later in the year. But I’m apparently still healthy, despite some lingering issues that have persisted over the past few years. I suspect most of that is partly the joy of being in your 40s!

We lost a beloved family pet last year. We bought our son a hamster for his birthday in 2016, and even knowing their short life-spans, we’d hoped it would live at least a few years. After some odd behaviour (biting my wife!) and a middle of the night escape from its cage, our hamster’s health continued to decline. It was sad seeing a healthy, energetic animal who’d spend all night running in her wheel, decline so suddenly. I think we’ve sworn off hamsters for the foreseeable future.

I still enjoy my Magic: The Gathering hobby, frequently attending weekly tournaments at a local game store throughout the year. That tapered off toward the end of the year as I became more worn-out from work, and the existing Standard-format cards rotated out of the format, rendering all my decks obsolete. Lately I’ve been playing more Magic online, in the form of MTG Arena. This is a great improvement over the other online game client (Magic: The Gathering Online aka MTGO), and I’ve been having fun leveling-up my skills and challenging viewers of my Magic YouTube channel. I’ve been testing a new Standard deck that seems to be performing well, so I’ll likely be heading back to the game store to take a paper version of the deck for a spin.

My Magic card unboxing channel continued to grow in 2018, passing 3000 subscribers and finally gaining YouTube monetization (i.e. ads). It has also had nearly 2 million minutes watched since I started it in July 2017, and over 350,000 views. These numbers still boggle my mind, though I suppose consistent effort sometimes yield results! Together with support from patrons (via Patreon), the channel has nearly covered its costs on a monthly basis. Hopefully it will continue to grow this year!

I also started a second YouTube channel back in May related to Funko Pop figures. Besides unboxing and talking about them, I also frequently add some silly skits in each episode. I particularly enjoy the ‘special effects’ aspect of these, even if it can be time consuming. I’m not able to devote as much time to this channel as I’d like, but I look forward to growing it in 2019.

Towards the end of the year we took part in some painting classes as a family, each painting a sunset landscape scene and a whimsical snowman. This was spurred by my wife and son attending a painting event to benefit a local animal shelter. This is something I’ve wanted to get into for years (I briefly tried oil painting), so I’m glad we were able to take these classes.

My fiction writing was non-existent for 2018. I neither wrote any new stories, nor submitted any to fiction markets. I had no real goals in mind, and honestly felt a bit dispirited about the whole thing. The bulk of my spare time was spent on the two YouTube channels and working on my apps. I did have some encouragement from coworkers who discovered my fiction, so that gave my confidence a bit of a boost!

Last year I again took part in the Goodreads Reading Challenge, though I didn’t reach my goal by a long-shot! My reading was exclusively in eBook form. Here are my reads for 2018:

Arsenal by Jeffery H. Haskell
Unstoppable Arsenal by Jeffery H. Haskell
Inescapable Arsenal by Jeffery H. Haskell
Let’s Get Digital 3rd Edition by David Gaughran
Shift by Hugh Howey
Outline Your Novel by Scott King
Dust by Hugh Howey
Plot Gardening by Chris Fox
Be A Writing Machine by M. L. Ronn
Heart Strings by Domino Finn
Powder Trade by Domino Finn
How to Write Your First Novel by M. L. Ronn
Writing for Life by J. H. Haskell

Aside from listening to heavy metal on SiriusXM, I still listen to some great short fiction podcasts on my daily commute, including Escape Pod, Pseudopod, and PodCastle. All highly recommended! The podcasts are free, but please donate or subscribe if you enjoy listening.

Now for some stats:

2018 Stats:

New apps released: 1
App updates released: 2 (includes Lite and Paid versions)
2018 Word count: 0
Stories written: 0
Stories published: 0
Total submissions: 0
Total acceptances: 0
Total rejections: 0
Waiting for response: 0
YouTube videos released: 599
YouTube channel subscribers: 3,782
Books read: 13

My iOS, Mac and PC app sales have declined significantly, particularly in the final quarter of 2017. I only released two app updates, having struggled for months to add support for the iPhone X screen layout and the myriad other changes in iOS 11 and iOS 12. I’d completed this process for one app, only to have Apple to release more new iPhones and iPads with even more screen variations. While I should have a good handle on making these updates, the more painful aspect is updating several hundred screenshots for all my apps in multiple languages. If only the screenshot automation tools were more reliable! Revenue was significantly lower than last year, though I did manage to keep expenses much lower also.

I released a new app in February, which was the PC version of Artwork Tracker. Despite numerous requests for this app over the years, sales so far have been abysmal. I’ve also had requests for a PC version of my iOS app, Plant Album, but I’m not planning such an app due to poor sales. At this point it seems like I’m close to saturating the market for my apps, but I’m hoping to stabilize the trend with more updates. Failing that, I’ve had a good run, having been working on my apps for over 10 years now!

As with last year, I didn’t do much with my bonsai this year except keep the remaining trees alive. There were no bonsai shows or botanic garden visits either. I still spent a fair bit of time in the garden this year, growing the usual selection of veggies (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, peas, beans, cucumbers, and zucchini). We had a nice crop this year!

Last year was another great year, travel-wise. In addition to our trips back and forth to Michigan, we also spent some time in Florida, and went on our first cruise with the in-laws. We visited Miami, Key West, Costa Maya (Mexico), the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza (Mexico), Grand Cayman, and Universal Studios. I enjoyed the cruise much more than I thought I would. The seas were pretty calm, and no one was seasick! In addition to this grand adventure, we also spent a few days at a cabin in the woods in Michigan, visited a Halloween event at Old World Wisconsin, and made a short pre-Christmas visit to Milwaukee.

The summer of 2018 was also apparently the summer of home improvement! We knew our roof and gutters were in bad shape, but we didn’t know exactly how bad until we had them inspected. We ended up with a new roof, soffit, fascia, and gutters! Now we’re having a much less stressful winter knowing the roof isn’t likely to cave-in or leak anytime soon due to snow and ice build-up. The downside is we’ll be paying for all this for a long time…

That’s pretty much it for 2018. I’m mostly done with New Year’s resolutions, since that’s an almost guaranteed way to ensure none of those goals are ever reached. Though I would like to make some time for my fiction writing again in 2019, assuming I can fit it in with all my other hobbies!

I hope everyone had a good year, and I wish you all the best for 2019. Happy New Year!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

2017 Retrospective

Now that 2018 has finally arrived, it’s time to take a look back at 2017 with my annual year-in-review post.

2017 was a tough year in many respects, as I’m sure it was for many other people. The health issues I mentioned in last year’s entry continue to linger, though all testing indicates I’m apparently as fit as a fiddle. It all no doubt comes down to the joys of ageing. Oh well!

I was pretty happy with my fitness level last year. Thanks to some goading by my Apple Watch’s New Year’s challenge, I ended up running 3-4 miles on the treadmill every day from January 1st through late April. I lost 20lbs in the process! This tapered off thereafter once the weather improved and I spent more time in the garden. Unfortunately once I’d slacked off with the exercise habit, I did very little for the rest of the year. I finished the year down 10lbs from when I started, which is quite a feat considering the gastronomic journey that was 2017!

We had some sad losses in the family during the year. Earlier in the year we lost our old cat after a long battle with various health issues. It was a sad and strange time after her passing, and even our other cat seemed to notice her absence. We have since adopted two new cats from a local animal shelter, one of which is fairly young and the other is middle-aged. They all seem to get on fairly well after their initial settling-in period. Three cats seems to be a good amount, aside from the problem of frequently tripping over cats resting in the hallway! With all of this, our vet bills were through the roof in 2017.

Later in the year we lost two grandparents on opposite sides of the world in the space of 2 weeks. This was a sad time for both sides of our family. Both grandparents lived long, full lives, and we’ll all dearly miss them.

I picked up a new hobby after watching lots of gaming videos while running on the treadmill. In April I bought a box of Magic: The Gathering cards, and soon thereafter found myself playing tournaments at a local card store. This was great fun, as well as being a good way to unwind, exercise the old brain cells, and socialize. That first store closed down in late July, leaving me without a good local game store. Luckily I found an even better one a further 10 minute drive away, and I’ve been heading there most weekends ever since.

Related to the new hobby, I also started a YouTube channel with card unboxings. That became a new hobby in itself! My previous YouTube channel has a single video showcasing my old iOS game, so it was quite a change going from that to a new channel that actually gets some views. I passed the 10k view mark back in late November, which in theory should make it eligible for monetization (i.e. ads). Monetization reviews are apparently severely backed-up at YouTube right now, so it’s anyone’s guess when (if?) it’ll be approved. In any case it’s a fairly small niche, so I don’t expect ads will bring in much revenue.

Surprising no one, my writing goals weren’t met last year. This seems to be an ongoing theme. I submitted a bunch of stories, but wrote very little new fiction. Most of my spare time went toward working on my apps and growing the new YouTube channel.

I entered two flash fiction competitions during the year, this time for PodCastle and Pseudopod. My Podcastle entry made it to the semi-final round, but the other one was knocked out in the first round. I wrote both stories at the last minute, and had a blast writing and reading all the other entrants in each contest.

Last year I read a decent amount, taking part again in the Goodreads Reading Challenge. My reading was exclusively in eBook form. Here are my reads for 2017:

Shadow Play by Domino Finn
Black Spark by Al K. Line
Android for iOS Developers : A Step by Step Guide by Adrian Kosmaczewski
A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey
Generation Decks: The Unofficial History of Gaming Phenomenon Magic: The Gathering by Titus Chalk
Magic: The Gathering Drafting Guide for Beginners by Alexander Norland
Magic: The Gathering Rules and Getting Started, Strategy Guide, Deck Building for Beginners by Alexander Norland
Unidentified Funny Objects 5 by Alex Shvartsman
Productivity for Indie Authors: A Book about Doing Less and Making More by David Lee Martin
Relaunch your Novel: Breathe Life into your Backlist by Chris Fox
Deviant (Karma Police #4) by Sean Platt & David W. Wright
The Fall (Karma Police #5) by Sean Platt & David W. Wright
Homecoming (Karma Police #6) by Sean Platt & David W. Wright
Story Pitch: The How To Guide for Using a Pitch to Create your Story by Scott King
Destroyer by Chris Fox
Exiled By Chris Fox
Void Wraith by Chris Fox
Resist Them by Scott King
Magic Life: My Story of Becoming a Pro Player by Travis Woo
Eradication by Chris Fox

I still listen to some great short fiction podcasts on my daily commute, including Escape Pod, Pseudopod, and PodCastle. I highly recommend all of them, even to people who might not be short fiction readers. The podcasts are free, but please donate or subscribe if you enjoy listening.

Now for some stats:

2017 Stats:

New apps released: 0
App updates released: 53 (includes Lite and Paid versions)
2017 Word count: 1,037
Stories written: 2
Stories published: 0
Total submissions: 11
Total acceptances: 0
Total rejections: 11
Waiting for response: 0
YouTube videos released: 227
YouTube channel subscribers: 221
Books read: 21
Comics read: 12

My iOS, Mac and PC app sales have mostly remained flat, despite releasing a record number of updates (53!) throughout the year. The Bonsai Album updates alone took over 6 months to complete, starting in 2016. Revenue is slightly higher than last year, and I managed to keep expenses much lower. Even though sales of the new apps from 2016 improved early in the year, they still didn’t come close to meeting my low expectations. I also have a lot of work ahead of me to update all my iOS apps for the iPhone X! The simulator for this device was very clunky and I’ve had a great deal of trouble getting my apps updated to cope with the new screen requirements. I ended up purchasing one just before Christmas, so hopefully that will smooth development of these updates from now on.

In August I announced I’d begun working on a new PC app, Artwork Tracker. This is getting close to completion, so I’ll hopefully be able to release it later this month. I hope it does well, since people have been asking for it for years!

I’ve decided to shelve development of Bonsai Album for Android. There simply wasn’t enough time in the year to learn a new platform and develop an app from scratch for it, while still updating all my other apps. I’ll re-evaluate this again once I’m done with the iPhone X app updates, but I doubt I’ll have the bandwidth to work on an Android version.

I didn’t do much with my bonsai this year, other than keep them alive. There were no bonsai shows or botanic garden visits, and thankfully I don’t think I lost any more trees in 2017. I still spent a lot of time in the garden this year, expanding the flower garden in our front yard, restoring the back garden to its former glory, and growing the usual selection of veggies (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, peas, beans, and cucumbers). We had a decent crop this year, although I was disappointed the zucchini didn’t grow.

Last year was fantastic travel-wise. In addition to the usual trips back and forth to Michigan, we went on epic road trip out west with my parents in our Dodge Charger, passing through 6 states (Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota) along the way. We visited Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and the Badlands, along with stopping at various weird and wonderful roadside attractions (giant otter, bison, Jackalopes, dinosaur, cow, and more!) and seeing the sights in South Dakota. We also spent some time in the Wisconsin Dells, and again made the pilgrimage to House on the Rock.

So that was 2017. Normally I’d spend a few paragraphs on my goals and grand plans for 2018, but since this seems to be a great way to ensure none of it ever happens, I’ll be keeping everything under my hat this year. Having said that, it’s pretty clear I definitely didn’t slack off in 2017!

I hope everyone had a good year, and best wishes for a great 2018. Happy New Year!

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Bonsai Album for PC v2.0.0.0 update now available

Bonsai Album for PC

Bonsai Album makes keeping track of your bonsai or penjing collection easy, whether you’re new to bonsai, a collector, a dealer, or even a bonsai master.

The Bonsai Album for PC v2.0.0.0 update is now available.

For existing customers, click ‘Check for Updates…’ in the Help menu within the app and follow the prompts to update.

This update contains the following changes:

  • Increased photo resolution when adding new photos.
  • Added Extra-Large photos option for the Bonsai Report feature.
  • Log photos are now automatically added to the associated Bonsai and Pot.
  • New Bonsai fields: ID, In Collection, Value, Sell Price, Fertilizer, Location, Weight, Light, Temperature, Medium.
  • Bonsai Source field is now an editable text field.
  • New Pot fields: ID, In Collection, Value, Sell Price, Weight, Location.
  • Added Semi-Cascade Pot shape.
  • Pots can now be sorted by shape.
  • Bonsai and Pot lists now show ID field and In Collection state.
  • Bonsai and Pots can now be hidden if not in your collection.
  • Added barred snowflake icon for Bonsai with Winter Indoors set to Yes.
  • Bonsai search can now filter trees needing Winter Indoors by starting to search for “Winter Indoors”.
  • Value statistic now takes the new Value fields into account.
  • Added Apply button to Info windows.
  • Increased photo caption font size.
  • Added table right-click context menu.
  • Added Duplicate Item feature.
  • Bug fixes.

You can learn more about Bonsai Album at my website or on the Bonsai Album Facebook group.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Bonsai Album for Mac v2.0 update now available

Bonsai Album for Mac

Bonsai Album makes keeping track of your bonsai or penjing collection easy, whether you’re new to bonsai, a collector, a dealer, or even a bonsai master.

The Bonsai Album for Mac v2.0 update is now available on the Mac App Store.

For direct purchase customers, click ‘Check for Updates…’ in the Bonsai Album menu within the app and follow the prompts to update.

This update contains the following changes:

This update requires Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) or higher!

  • Increased photo resolution when adding new photos.
  • Added Extra-Large photos option for the Bonsai Report feature.
  • Log photos are now automatically added to the associated Bonsai and Pot.
  • New Bonsai fields: ID, In Collection, Value, Sell Price, Fertilizer, Location, Weight, Light, Temperature, Medium.
  • Bonsai Source field is now an editable text field.
  • New Pot fields: ID, In Collection, Value, Sell Price, Weight, Location.
  • Added Semi-Cascade Pot shape.
  • Pots can now be sorted by shape.
  • Bonsai and Pot lists now show ID field and In Collection state.
  • Bonsai and Pots can now be hidden if not in your collection.
  • Added barred snowflake icon for Bonsai with Winter Indoors set to Yes.
  • Bonsai search can now filter trees needing Winter Indoors by starting to search for “Winter Indoors”.
  • Value statistic now takes the new Value fields into account.
  • Added Apply button to Info windows.
  • Increased photo caption font size.
  • Added table right-click context menu.
  • Added Duplicate Item feature.
  • Bug fixes.

If you’re enjoying the app, please take a moment to rate or review it on the Mac App Store!

You can learn more about Bonsai Album at my website or on the Bonsai Album Facebook group.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Bonsai Album v3.0 update now available for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch

The Bonsai Album v3.0 update is now available on the App Store for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

Bonsai Album makes keeping track of your bonsai or penjing collection easy, whether you’re new to bonsai, a collector, a dealer, or even a bonsai master.

Bonsai Album

This update contains the following changes:

Note: This update requires iOS 8 or higher!

  • Added iOS 10 support.
  • Add multiple photos at a time from your photo library.
  • Increased the photo size on the Bonsai, Pots, and Logs lists.
  • Increased photo resolution when adding new photos.
  • Added Extra-Large photos option for the Bonsai Report feature.
  • Log photos are now automatically added to the associated Bonsai and Pot.
  • Increased photo caption font size.
  • Added photo sharing feature.
  • New Bonsai fields: ID, In Collection, Value, Sell Price, Fertilizer, Location, Weight, Light, Temperature, Medium.
  • Bonsai Source field is now an editable text field.
  • New Pot fields: ID, In Collection, Value, Sell Price, Weight, Location.
  • Added Semi-Cascade Pot shape.
  • Pots can now be sorted by shape.
  • Bonsai and Pot lists now show ID field and In Collection state.
  • Bonsai and Pots can now be hidden if not in your collection.
  • Added barred snowflake icon for Bonsai with Winter Indoors set to Yes.
  • Bonsai search can now filter trees needing Winter Indoors by starting to search for “Winter Indoors”.
  • Value statistic now takes the new Value fields into account.
  • New CSV templates for the new fields.
  • Bug fixes.

If you’re enjoying the app, please take a moment to rate or review it on the App Store!

You can learn more about Bonsai Album at my website or on the Bonsai Album Facebook group.

Tags: , , , , ,

2016 Retrospective

With 2017 fast approaching in this neck of the woods, it’s time for my annual year-in-review post.

I usually don’t have too many complaints in these posts, but I have to say 2016 really tested me. And it wasn’t just election-related!

It started with some health issues that began late last year, persisting into early summer. I had a bunch of doctor’s visits and several expensive tests, but there was no real insight into what was going on. Things improved in the second half of the year, thankfully. I still don’t have any idea what was going on, but I’m making an effort to get more rest these days. Work continues to be a major source of stress, unfortunately.

Once again we had several costly car repairs in the first half of the year. Both cars are over 10 years old, with mine almost 14. This ongoing hassle culminated in having to make a decision in May when my car broke down yet again. We had to consider either spending twice the value of the car on repairs, or junking it and getting a new one. We decided on the latter option after realizing we’d have to spend the equivalent of six months of car payments to fix it! As luck would have it, our mechanic was interested in the car (supercharger, anyone?) and ended up buying it. He got a great deal. As for us, we re-entered the world of car payments and bought a new 2016 Dodge Charger. Alas, a V8 Hellcat model was out of reach…

My writing goals for the year were pretty much a bust. I submitted way more stories this year, but didn’t write much new fiction. As with last year, the bulk of my spare time was occupied by working on apps. I released a new PC app, two new Mac apps, a new iOS app, and 33 app updates.

In February I self-published my short story, That Which Dwells Beneath, in eBook and paperback form. This story first appeared in Lovecraft eZine in 2014. That was a fun learning exercise, even though it didn’t sell much. My plan was to use the knowledge gained when launching my first novel. Incidentally, I didn’t work on the novel, other than to re-read parts of my 2011 NaNoWriMo effort.

I entered two flash fiction competitions during the year, this time for Escape Pod and Cast of Wonders. My Escape Pod entry made it past the first round, but not the second. It probably didn’t help that I wrote both at the last minute!

I read more writing books this year and took two classic Dean Wesley Smith writing workshops related to genre and writing in series. I also signed up for Mark Dawson’s Facebook Ads for Authors course when it was offered this past summer, as well as his new Self Publishing 101 course. All of the above were well worth it, though it’ll take awhile longer to get the full benefit from the FB Ads course.

This year I read a good amount, taking part again in the Goodreads Reading Challenge. My reading continued to be almost exclusively in eBook form. Here are my reads for 2016:

Zeroes by Chuck Wendig
Write to Market: Deliver a Book that Sells by Chris Fox
Irregular Creatures by Chuck Wendig
Zen of eBook Marketing by Guido Henkel
How to Write a Novella in 24 Hours by Andrew Mayne
Jumper: Karma Police Book One by Sean Platt & David Wright
Iterate and Optimize: Optimize Your Creative Business for Profit by Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant & David Wright
Dead Man: Black Magic Outlaw #1 by Domino Finn
Cursed: The Thrice Cursed Mage #1 by J. A. Cipriano
Launch to Market: Easy Marketing for Authors by Chris Fox
Wrong Side of Hell: The DeathSpeaker Codex #1 by Sonya Bateman
Writing about Magic by Rayne Hall
Justice Calling: The Twenty-Sided Sorceress #1 by Annie Bellet
Blue Collar to No Collar: From Trucker to Bestselling Novelist in Two Years by Wayne Stinnett
Storm Front: The Dresden Files #1 by Jim Butcher
The Shambling Guide to New York: The Shambling Guides #1 by Mur Lafferty
Lustlocked: Sin du Jour #2 by Matt Wallace
Six Figure Author: Using Data to Sell Books by Chris Fox
The Forever Endeavor by Chuck Wendig
Karma Police: Karma Police Book Two by Sean Platt & David Wright
The Collectors: Karma Police Book Three by Sean Platt & David Wright
Ameriguns: A Thriller by Scott King
The 5 Day Novel by Scott King
Book Cover Secrets and Shortcuts: Book Cover Design for Everyone by Ed Lewis
Tales from the Loop by Simon Stålenhag

I continued listening to some great short fiction podcasts on my daily commute, including Escape Pod, Pseudopod, PodCastle, and Cast of Wonders. I highly recommend them, even to people who might not be short fiction readers. The podcasts are free, but please donate or subscribe if you enjoy listening.

Now for some stats:

2016 Stats:

New apps released: 4
App updates released: 33 (includes Lite and Paid versions)
2016 Word count: 1,513
Stories written: 2
Stories published: 1
Total submissions: 32
Total acceptances: 0
Total rejections: 32
Waiting for response: 0
Books read: 25
Comics read: 12

As previously mentioned, I did a tonne of work on my apps this year. I released 4 new apps and more updates than last year.

My iOS, Mac and PC apps continue to decline in sales, despite the release of new apps. Revenue is slightly lower than last year. My new apps tanked badly, but I’m hoping they’ll do better by next Spring, since gardening app sales are typically seasonal.

In mid-April I released a Mac version of my orchid collection tracking app, Orchid Album. Like the iOS and PC versions, this app is localized into 6 languages, including English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Portuguese.

October saw the release of both Mac and PC versions of my iOS cactus collection tracking app, Cactus Album. This year I’d localized the iOS app into an additional 6 languages (French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Thai), and likewise for the Mac and PC versions.

In December I beat the App Store shutdown deadline and released my first new iOS app in two years, Plant Album. This is a more general-purpose garden and plant tracking app for gardeners, localized into 6 languages, including English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Despite adding a few more Android test devices to my collection this year, I didn’t do much work on Bonsai Album for Android. I’m getting stuck into learning the platform from scratch (again!) and hope to complete the app in 2017.

I’ve abandoned the untitled shoot-em-up game I was working on late last year. It would’ve been too much effort and expense to bother with considering the totally flooded game market these days. It’s a pity, since I had a prototype working on iOS, Mac, and Apple TV with the same codebase, including game controller support on all three platforms.

My interest in bonsai this year was confined to keeping my trees alive. I didn’t attend any bonsai shows or botanic gardens this year. I also lost a handful more trees, due to the harsh winter and a squirrel (or was it a rabbit or raccoon?) chomping apart one of my tropical trees at the roots.

Travel-wise, this year we made a bunch of trips to Michigan as usual. We also visited Amish country in Indiana, and the Cedar Point amusement park in Ohio. No exotic Florida vacation this year!

I wasn’t terribly happy with my personal fitness in 2016. Between the aforementioned health issues and slacking off in the final few months of the year, I didn’t exercise anywhere near as much as I should have.

This year I voted as a U.S. citizen for the first time, voting in the Illinois primaries and the general election. I wasn’t happy with the result of either one, but at least I voted, unlike most of the population!

So that’s my 2016 in a nutshell. My 2016 goals were a total shambles, but that’s not going to stop me making plans for 2017! Here are my goals for 2017:

– Write more fiction and complete my first novel.

– Complete my first Android app (most likely Bonsai Album). I still need to finish off the iOS, Mac and PC updates for Bonsai Album I’ve been working on since Summer, but after that the decks should be clear to get cracking on Android.

– Get back into my usual exercise routine, at least 3 times per week.

– Spend more time in our garden. I worked on the veggie garden this year, but just about everything else was neglected. It has been depressing looking at some amazing photos of our garden from the past decade and realizing it hasn’t looked that great in many years.

I hope everyone had a decent year, and I wish you well as we head into 2017. Happy New Year!

Tags: , , , , ,

Bonsai Album v2.6 update now available for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch

The Bonsai Album v2.6 update is now available on the App Store for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

Bonsai Album makes keeping track of your bonsai or penjing collection easy, whether you’re new to bonsai, a collector, a dealer, or even a bonsai master.

Bonsai Album

This update contains the following changes:

Note: This update requires iOS 6 or higher!

  • Added iOS 9 support
  • Added iPad Pro support
  • Bug fixes

If you’re enjoying the app, please take a moment to rate or review it on the App Store!

You can learn more about Bonsai Album at my website or on the Bonsai Album Facebook group.

Tags: , , , , ,

Bonsai Album for PC v1.2.0.0 update now available

Bonsai Album for PC

Bonsai Album makes keeping track of your bonsai or penjing collection easy, whether you’re new to bonsai, a collector, a dealer, or even a bonsai master.

The Bonsai Album for PC v1.2.0.0 update is now available.

For existing customers, click ‘Check for Updates…’ in the Help menu within the app and follow the prompts to update.

This update contains the following changes:

  • Increased thumbnail-sized photo resolution.
  • Bug fixes.

You can learn more about Bonsai Album at my website or on the Bonsai Album Facebook group.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,