Thursday, December 10, 2009

Poker vs Girls, finally

Finally, after 4 rejections and nearly 3 months, we got the 2.0 version update to Poker vs Girls (our iPhone strip poker app) accepted by Apple.

The good news is it is more than what was allowed for version 1.0. The "17+" rating that was added since then does allow more, but still nothing you couldn't see at a PG-13 movie.

Two of these images got rejected (one when Apple called us and talked on the phone about what was OK and not OK), and the other three were accepted. Can you tell which?

It's the two on the right that were rejected. According to the phone call from Apple, it is not acceptable to have hands, fingers, or anything touching the model's lips or mouth. And they can't be actively taking off underwear even though having it already off and covering themselves is OK.

Now we've got to go back to the difficult job of looking through photos to add the next set of girls. (Don't forget we are equal opportunity, we also have Poker vs Guys. Strangely, it doesn't sell nearly as well.)

{UPDATE: And just like that, it's gone. The good news is many of them went on to graduate school... Get It Here}

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Somebody Really Likes our Logo

Thank you Apple graphic must really like our FTP On The Go logo!

The big app display banner in Apple stores. Lots of motion-blur on all the icons, but it does look like ours. And it's not just on the display, it's there 4 times that I could find!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Scam or Legit?

Yesterday some door-to-door salesman came by, from ECR magazine company or something like that. Bec initially agreed to get some magazines, but when she came in to get a checkbook, I said I don't like to ever buy things like that since it's impossible to tell if it's a scam. I just never buy anything if you call me or show up at my door.

The kid was understandably upset we backed out of buying, and it was a bit of a hassle to get some contact info so we could make sure nothing would get charged or sent to collections. You have to cancel in writing within 3 days? With no email or fax or website listed? It just seemed shadier and shadier as we were trying to stop. Bec did get a number and talked to somebody and sent a fax to cancel, so that should be good.

I wish I'd have thought to whip out the iPhone and start searching right then on the doorstep. The only references to the company I found were at Bad sign for them.

And the continued magic of the Internet: according to Google, this is what is at their address in Florida. Doesn't really inspire confidence. I was expecting to at least see an office park or a "Mailboxes Etc" type store. Which building do you think is "Suite #3"?

Magazines make sense if I was making up a scam, you'd not notice anything was wrong until months later when nothing had arrived.

I'll never know if it could have been legit, but that Googling raised some big suspicions. We'd just be out the cost of a magazine. The kid earns points and will (supposedly) get a big $5000 reward for getting enough points. From Seattle, what's he going to do if some company in Florida decides to not pay?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Wow! Thanks again Apple!

So after a lot of thought I decided to upgrade to the new iPhone 3GS. I could upgrade without paying the early-upgrade penalty, and really need to be able to test with all the different devices.

Waiting at the store seeing the various displays and things, I thought "Wouldn't it be cool if they had one of our icons." Next thing I see is our FTP On The Go icon! At the end of the promo video running in every AT&T and Apple store. It's only there for a few seconds, but it is an obvious one "installed" on the iPhone at the end, not just one of the flyby icons (it's possible another might be in those, we'll have to do a frame-by-frame view to see.)

I filmed it with the new iPhone, and uploaded to YouTube sitting in the car in the parking lot.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Very fine line in app approvals...

We submitted our new iPhone app, Poker vs Girls and pushed the images a bit too much.

We weren't really sure where the line is drawn, and now have a better idea. People taking off clothes or in their underwear is OK, but pretending to take off that underwear is not OK.

We removed the offending images and resubmitted. Of course when the next iPhone OS is out, with more parental controls, it should be OK to be more explicit, just mark it R rated.

Update 1: And that did the trick! Poker vs Girls is available in the App Store. Now we get to figure where the line is for pictures of dudes--we're equal opportunity and Poker vs Boys is coming next. Is there some crotch-bulge limitation? The wife will enjoy choosing those pictures :)

Update 2: The 5 offending images we weren't able to include...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Poker vs Girls

Coming Soon...hopefully any day now.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Programming Poker AI

Peter has done great updates (one, two, three) about how the user interface for our iPhone poker game has evolved.

Since it's looking so good for 2 players with chips, we knew that the one big request we would get is to have an AI so you could play one player against your iPhone.  I really didn't think I could do a good one--not even knowing where to start.

This post really helped get me started, with some methods to do the hand strength and some basic play.  I'd thought there would be some crazy mathematical formulas, but it was simpler than that--simulate a bunch of hands and see the percent it would win made sense.  Brute force I could do :)

I'm sure I could have found some existing poker AI to just plug something in.  But for any feature that's a core thing in a program I am making, I really don't feel I've solved the problem if I use some library to do it.  It's a Poker App--I wouldn't feel right using somebody elses AI.

I'd already done my own thing to detect which is a winning hand for the 2 player game--and while pretty  inefficient compared to the ones I've read about--it works.  And is fast enough it can do all the AI's calculations in a second or two.  Good enough for our 2 player poker game (since only has to do it for one player instead of a full table of players!)  It just took running that hand comparison with the AIs hand against a bunch of random hands.  It can do 100 or so in a second.  Which by my tests, gets it within a few % of the right hand strength.  Any errors where it's off will just make it more unpredictable. 

Interestingly, since the cards haven't changed, we tried having later actions in the turn play quicker...and it was too quick and didn't seem right.  So if it has to decide again (it bet, you raised, so it has to decide what to do), it does more calculations to improve its hand strength estimate--and to take enough time to really seem to be thinking about what it will do.

Starting with the basic strength percent, it also does many checks to play-down or play-up various hand types.  A few examples:
  • If it has a pair but there's at least one card showing on the board that is higher than my pair subtracts a bit from the strength.
  • Big flush draws when I don't have a flush are scary.
  • There's a bunch more...
Another thing we've worked on is so it knows some more advanced poker strategies.  Things I've probably done in a game, but Peter has done and knows the reason and names :)

Sometimes, it will slow-play really good hands.  But also knows when to stop slow playing them too.  (AA pre-flop is one it might slow play, but if the board comes 678 suited, it likely will stop slow playing its cards.)

We'll leave other strategies it does as a surprize for when it does them.

It's turning out to be a very competent player!  I'd worked for several days doing many strategy improvements, and the first game, it beat Peter (a good player who's won a nice bit of money in tournaments.) 

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hey Apple...

Another idea for you Apple.

As a developer, we have the iPhone Simulator and can run the iPhone programs right on a Mac for testing.  Couldn't you package the same code so any Mac (and maybe even Windows) user could buy and run any iPhone app directly on their computer too?  As part of iTunes or something, launching them in separate windows so you could have a couple running at once.

There are many that would be pointless (ooh, a flashlight!)...but might be kinda cool for others.  And would give anybody with a Mac a taste of what they could be running on an iPhone or iPod touch.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Great Gifts for Wifey

My wife has been sick for far too long. (Stage 4 Endometriosis. Very painful, but thankfully surgery next month to fix the problem.)

I got her two presents as she's been spending far too much time stuck in bed.

Nintendo DS. She'll probably never let me play it. She found several good word/crossword games, along with some "hidden object" sorts and she plays it a lot.

And I just got her a Kindle. She reads a ton even when not sick, and after doing a little math, we're better off. She'll reread the earlier books in a series when the next one is out, so doesn't want to ever get rid of books. With the Kindle, we save a few dollars per paperback (and closer to $20 per hardback). Plus saving on shipping or driving to the store, plus bookcases ($100 each just going to Ikea--and running out of space to put them.)

Even decided that we'll save if I get one too...since she's never going to share.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Thank You!

To the mystery Apple employee who chose iCatchall Tools as their Staff Favorite.

Thanks to you, iCatchall Tools got to the #1 sales spot in the Business category in iTunes! I like to think we'd have gotten there ourselves eventually...but you saved us a ton of time and advertising. Our slow climbing got a huge boost starting the day the pick showed on the iTunes App Store first page.

And it's dragging iCatchall up as well, not quite the huge 20x sales increase, but still getting close to the top 20 in the Utility category. (And that's a much harder category to reach the top--the top spot there gets close to the top 100 overall...hopefully!!)

And our next app is submitted, I couldn't write a better description of how it came to be than Peter did... Six Days from Idea to App.

Monday, March 2, 2009

App Adds Own Ads...

Our free app, iHourglass Free previously used AdMob to show ads. Made a few $ per day--about enough to cover the company coffee addiction. And if they'd let us fill the 60% extra unsold ads with our own, we probably would have stayed with them. We thought the ability to show a bunch of ads for our own programs was too good an opportunity to miss.

So we made out own ad system. iHourglass Free has been in the top set of free Utilities for a really long time, so there's lots of people using. All ads we'll show for now will be for our other iPhone programs! If it works well, we will see how to open it up...

With a brand new ad system, it's easy to pick out the hits. Since until something is approved, if it's not me or my brother, it must be Apple reviewing :)

Sunday @ about 4:30pm. Hits from an iPhone that ran it a few times so saw a couple ads. Can't tell if they ran it on any without a network connection of course.

Monday @ about 3:30pm, got the notification it had been approved. Within 1/2 hour, started to see hits from people who were getting the new version! It will be very interesting to see, within a few days we should have a good idea what percent of people are using iPhones vs iPod touches; as well as what OS versions too.

(Update, the stats we got ended up in a nice article on ArsTechnica!)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

App Approval 2

We did an update to the FTP Picture Upload iPhone app, so once again I get to see what the testers at Apple uploaded to our server when reviewing the program.  

These are even more awesome.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Future iPhones

My guess for Future iPhones.

Really the size is about right.  Big enough screen to be useful, but small enough to fit in a pocket.  It could get a fraction bigger by having less border, but that's about it.

The biggest unused space on the whole thing is the back.  My crazy guess is double-sided, with identical screens front and back.  With motion detection (easy to detect a 180 degree flip) and/or the same "it's close to your face" type sensors, it would be able to figure which side is up and active.  My screen after months doesn't have a scratch so is plenty durable.

This would get around the only one program running at a time limit (well, increases it to two.)  Use the program, flip to use a different one, flip back.  Crazier things have happened :)

(Added 2/7/2009)
After reading about the new updated Kindle coming, I thought, maybe put a small bit of the "e-paper" sort of thing it uses on the back as the 2nd screen.  Not sure if that's cheaper than a whole full-size screen--but it probably is.

I don't think the e-paper stuff needs electricity to show stuff the way a regular screen does.  Would be perfect for text messages, showing new emails, etc.

That would be cool too!

Friday, January 23, 2009

First Email Address

I read that our new president is keeping his Blackberry for friends and family.  Assuming it isn't, it makes you wonder what (hopefully) ridiculous name he had to choose.

prez44?  treklover61?  bearsfan873?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

App Approval Process Dinner

Pete and I made another "quick" iPhone app, FTP Picture Upload. (Quick only because of the months putting together FTP On The Go and it re-uses big portions of that.)

It lets you take a picture with the iPhone camera and upload it to your website. I provided a test FTP server so the people reviewing it at Apple could upload photos.

Of course I can see what was uploaded to our server. They were apparently working over a dinner of shrimp fried rice at about 8pm on a Friday night...assuming they're in California. Could also be lunch Saturday in some other time zone.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Lost Ark

We watched Raiders of the Lost Ark over the holidays.

So at the very beginning, how exactly did the Aztecs make a light-sensitive trap?  Wouldn't it go off every night?  I suppose it's just magic.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A Stupid Name Idea

I keep waiting for the perfect project to use my silly name idea--to use a bunch of the "hot" name suffixes and prefixes over the years in one big awesome name.


Been keeping that for a couple years, so likely will never come.  Maybe somebody else has a product that needs a crazy name...