Archive for category bonsai

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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2015 Retrospective

With the start of a new year, it’s a good time for one last look back at the previous year.

I don’t have too many complaints about 2015. The day job was a madhouse for much of the year, involving stacks of overtime and some overseas travel. Both of our old cars continue to test the pocketbook, and finances will prevent their replacement anytime soon. On the bright side, I finally paid off my large medical bill, so that’s one less thing to worry about.

Revisiting my 2015 goals, I wasn’t able to focus on writing so much. I didn’t go back to my novel at all, though I wrote a bunch of short stories instead. I mostly expended a huge amount of effort on my apps. In addition to 20+ iOS app updates, I released 3 new PC apps and an Apple TV app.

During 2015 I wrote a new Lovecraftian story and a whole bunch of flash fiction. From the latter I selected the two best stories to enter the Pseudopod flash fiction competition. One of the two stories made it past the first round, but was knocked out in the second. It was loads of fun to create some glimpses of new worlds and characters, so it’s something I’d like to do more of in the future.

Last year I read several writing books and watched some James Patterson Master Class writing lectures, as well as another lecture by Dean Wesley Smith and the folks at WMG Publishing. While there were no mind-blowing revelations, there were plenty of cool things to add to my writing toolbox.

My experiments in self-publishing fell flat, leaving me to conclude that short stories are a very tough sell at the present time. Then again, I can’t discount the possibility that my stories really sucked!

I had one story enrolled in Kindle Unlimited (KU) for 3 months, but had zero borrows over that time. If you’re a reader signed up for a Kindle Unlimited subscription, you would’ve been able to read it for free (i.e. borrow). The economics of the program changed during the year, which means it’s no longer possible to earn substantially more per short story download from a KU borrow vs a direct purchase at 99 cents. What was odd was making a handful of sales after pulling that particular story from KU.

While sales at Amazon were bad, everywhere else was completely dismal (zero!). As a result, I have since made both stories permanently free on all eBook platforms. I’m now getting a steady trickle of downloads, but still only on Amazon.

I did okay with keeping my stories out for submission at traditional markets, but like always, could’ve done better.

In 2015 I read twice as many books as the previous year. It probably helped there weren’t too many phonebook-sized tomes in the list. I took part in the Goodreads Reading Challenge which was a great motivator. Like last year, I read almost exclusively in eBook form. Here are my 2015 reads:

Threshold by Sean Platt and David Wright
The Martian by Andy Weir
Supercharge Your Kindle Sales: Simple Strategies to Boost Organic Traffic on Amazon, Sell More Books, and Blow Up Your Author Mailing List by Nick Stephenson
The Cormorant by Chuck Wendig
Invasion by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant
Writing High-Performance .NET Code by Ben Watson
Alamo Rising by Josh Rountree and Lon Prater
Contact by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant
Reader Magnets: Build Your Author Platform and Sell More Books on Kindle by Nick Stephenson
Take Off Your Pants!: Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing by Libbie Hawker
Playing the Short Game: How to Market & Sell Short Fiction by Douglas Smith
Indie Author Survival Guide by Susan Kaye Quinn
5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter by Chris Fox
Colonization by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Lifelong Writing Habit: The Secret to Writing Every Day by Chris Fox
Build IOS Games with Sprite Kit: Unleash Your Imagination in Two Dimensions by Jonathan Penn and Josh Smith
Stories From July by Dean Wesley Smith
Fiction Unboxed by Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt
Envy of Angels by Matt Wallace

I continued to listen to short fiction podcasts on my daily commute via Escape Pod, Pseudopod, and PodCastle. I highly recommend them, even to people who might not be short fiction readers. The podcasts are free, but please send a few bucks their way if you enjoy listening.

Now for some stats:

2015 Stats:

New apps released: 4
App updates released: 21 (includes Lite and Paid versions)
2015 Word count: 13,958
Stories written: 14
Stories published: 0
Total submissions: 12
Total acceptances: 0
Total rejections: 12
Waiting for response: 0
Books read: 20
Comics read: 12

As mentioned above, I did a huge amount of work on my apps in 2015. I released 4 new apps and even more updates than last year.

My iOS and Mac apps continued their steady sales decline, with most almost reaching saturation point for their respective niches. Revenue for my iOS and Mac apps is roughly flat compared with the previous year. My PC apps didn’t do as well as expected, but they still helped minimize the impact of the lower sales of the rest.

Near the end of March I released Bonsai Album for PC. This is the PC version of my Mac bonsai tracking app, and it contains pretty much the same features. Like the Mac version, this app is localized into 7 languages, including English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, and Portuguese. There were some particular challenges on the PC platform with respect to obtaining a code-signing certificate and getting the licensing code working, but I was able to reuse this work in my other PC apps.

In mid-May I released the PC version of my submission tracking app for writers, Story Tracker.

In July I announced Bonsai Album for Android, taking my first tentative steps into Android app development.

September saw the release of the PC version of my iOS orchid collection tracking app, Orchid Album. Like the iOS version, this app is localized into 6 languages, including English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Portuguese.

In October I released an Apple TV version of my flying jackalope game, Flapalope. This was a fun exercise, since Apple TV apps are quite similar to iOS apps. I’m using the Cocos2D game development framework again. I also had fun creating a game trailer on YouTube. A single 99c purchase unlocks both the iOS and Apple TV versions. Unfortunately the Apple TV App Store launch was botched in the first few weeks, leading to most apps being difficult to find. The situation has only marginally improved since.

Despite having made a grand total of 63 cents from this new game, I was excited to work on another one. This time around it’s an untitled shoot-em-up, also done with Cocos2D. The prototype is already working on iOS, Mac, and Apple TV with the same codebase, and also has game controller support on all three platforms. I’m still trying to decide which direction I’ll take the game, but I’m hoping to release it sometime this year.

Another big milestone this year was finally obtaining my U.S. citizenship! I’ve been eligible to apply for years, but with the looming 10-year expiry and renewal of my greencard, it was time to do some serious thinking. I applied in January, studied furiously for the test, and the interview and subsequent ceremony was in May.

My interest in bonsai waned further in 2015. I lost a few more trees during the horrendous winter, which added to the tally from the previous winter. There were no new trees this year, either.

I attended one bonsai show at Morton Arboretum, but missed the big show at the Chicago Botanic Garden due to travel.

I didn’t take much time off in the first half of the year, but enjoyed having my parents visit during Summer. We spent some time with them in Milwaukee and upper Michigan before they headed to the next stop on their trip. Later, we went camping with the inlaws, and in December we headed to Florida for Christmas, visiting Daytona Beach, Saint Augustine, Epcot, Key West, and Legoland (including the new Legoland hotel).
I also had two week-long business trips in 2015, spending some time in Paris and Guadalajara. Alas, not as fun as they might sound.

I was fairly happy with my personal fitness in 2015. I made time for regular treadmill workouts, consistently exercising 3 times a week, except for travel weeks and when the treadmill died in February. Funnily enough, the treadmill died a week before its 10-year warranty expired, so we only had to pay for the labor cost of repairs.

That about sums it up for 2015. I like setting New Year’s goals, despite not always being able to meet them. Here’s what I’m planning for 2016:

– Number one goal this year is to complete my first novel. I’ve always wanted to have at least one under my belt before hitting 40, and time is fast running out!

– Further to the previous goal, I plan to focus on my writing this year, rather than sacrificing it for apps. This includes both writing more stories and substantially ramping up submissions.

– I plan to continue my usual exercise routine. It gets tougher with age, but the benefits are too great to pass up.

– I’d like to release my new shoot-em-up game on iOS, Mac, and Apple TV. I’ve spent a bunch of time on the prototype, and I’d hate for all that effort to go to waste.

So, that’s it for another year. I hope 2015 treated you well, and best wishes for the New Year!

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Bonsai Album for PC v1.1.0.0 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 v1.1.0.0 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:

  • Improved performance with large databases when switching between tabs.
  • Swapped Delete and Cancel button order on the item deletion alert.
  • User interface improvements.
  • Bug fixes.

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

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Announcing Bonsai Album for Android

Bonsai Album (Android)

Ever since releasing Bonsai Album on the iOS App Store in late 2011, I’ve had requests for an Android version. Bonsai Album is my bonsai tree collection tracking database app, currently available for iOS, Mac, and PC. With Bonsai Album you can keep track of your trees, pots, notes and more, with multiple photos and reporting functionality.

I keep revisiting the possibility of an Android version, but from previous investigations it seemed like it would be a painful and costly exercise. My response has always been that I have no plans for an Android version.

Well, today I’m eating my words and announcing Bonsai Album for Android!

What changed? Well, among other things the development tools and Google Play have improved greatly over the past few years. Google has also recently changed how they handle sales taxes and VAT for developers. A couple of the big ‘pain points’ have now been addressed. There’s still the hassle of attempting to provide support for thousands of different Android devices, many of which are running old and outdated software. To counter that, I plan to support only more recent versions of Android (probably 4.x or higher) and make use of the available Android emulation tools.

Since I’m starting development from scratch, I anticipate a steep learning curve and many hurdles along the way. I don’t yet have a good idea of an expected launch date.

If you’re interested in learning more about Bonsai Album for Android as development progresses, visit the Bonsai Album Facebook page or sign up below to be notified via email closer to app launch.



Please Note: I won’t give away or sell your email address to anyone. Your email address will be used only for my app newsletter. You can unsubscribe from the newsletter at any time.

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