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App downloads after being featured by sites (with numbers!) [Jan. 25th, 2016|09:20 pm]
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[Current Mood |cheerfulcheerful]

Since I was fortunate enough to have Know Your States featured by a few sites, I thought I'd share what my download numbers looked like. Here you go:

January 4: initial release for Windows 10: 20 downloads - After it went live in the Store, I made a quick post about it as well as a tweet. It's hard to tease out what did what (my guess is that being new in the Store made it show up somewhere), but 20 downloads in a day is pretty good considering it had been live in the Windows Phone Store for a long time and was getting an average of 1 download a day.

January 11: blog post on reddit, retweeted by @msdev: 1-3 downloads - I wrote my post about UWP apps which included a link to Know Your States (and SatRadioGuide) at the top. It was pretty high on reddit's wpdev and windowsdev for a while, and my original tweet got retweeted by @gcaughey (9.6K followers) and @MSTechRewards (22.8K followers). Despite all of that, the app got very few downloads.

January 14: article on WMPowerUser: 64 downloads - I had submitted my article a few days before and was excited to see it get posted; when I had done this for an earlier app, I got a spike in downloads, and the same thing happened this time! Note that the article is word for word what I wrote (which is why it's a "Developer Submission"), so be careful about what you write!

January 20: review on Windows Central: 226 downloads - I had given up on Windows Central since I had tipped them a week earlier, but lo and behold they reviewed my app! I would say the review was mostly positive, and the (on-topic) comments were reasonably positive too. And obviously it blew everything else away in terms of downloads (and in-app purchases too!), which is why Windows Central is still the gold standard of getting your app out there.


See all my Windows/Windows Phone development posts. I also send out a monthly-or-so email with news for developers - check out the latest email and sign up here!

I'm planning on writing more posts about Windows Phone development - what would you like to hear about? Reply here, on twitter at @gregstoll, or by email at greg@gregstoll.com.
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friday linked list: no Rey toys, terrorism, the financial tips index card [Jan. 22nd, 2016|03:54 pm]
[Current Mood |cheerfulcheerful]

- Apparently many new Star Wars toys don't include Rey on purpose because boys don't like girls and aaaaaaaa everything is terrible.

- The Threat Is Already Inside (and nine other truths about terrorism that nobody wants to hear) - good reminders to keep things in perspective (thanks David!)

- Can The Best Financial Tips Fit On An Index Card? - I guess they can!

- The Nation He Built - as Obama's term winds down, it's good to look back and see all the positive change his administration achieved.

- Adele Carpool Karaoke - losing David Bowie and Alan Rickman hurts a lot, but it's good to see younger celebrities are cool too. (also, man, what a voice!)

- A Drug to Cure Fear - neat! (thanks David!)

- Why Are Corporations Hoarding Trillions? - good question!

- A Progressive Way to End Corporate Taxes (thanks David!)

- Why do people keep coming to this couple’s home looking for lost phones? - that is bizarre (and kind of scary)
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Two things I've learned about writing UWP apps for Windows [Jan. 11th, 2016|09:59 am]
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[Current Mood |thoughtfulthoughtful]

Download my latest Windows 10 apps!

View a channel guide for your SiriusXM radio on the go! You can't listen to online radio, but you can browse all available channels, mark your favorite channels, and search by artist or description.
Get it on Windows 10
Know Your States:

Learn information about all 50 United States! Study facts and then quiz yourself on state capitals, flags, birds, and more!
Get it on Windows 10

1. Make desktop versions of your apps!

When Microsoft announced Universal Apps with Windows/Windows Phone 8.1, I thought it was kinda neat but didn't go out of the way to make any of my Windows Phone apps desktop apps. (I did write a small one, Float to Hex, but it was mostly just to teach myself how to do it) You had to write a whole separate view for each page for both desktop and mobile, which meant you could share model code, etc, but there was still a lot of duplicate work.

After the launch of the Universal Windows Platform with Windows/Windows Phone 10, it became a lot easier to write apps that worked on desktop and on the phone, since you could now use the same views, so I decided to give it a shot. It was still more of a novelty, since the first app I did this for was SatRadioGuide (a SiriusXM channel guide), which I was convinced was way more useful on a phone (i.e. while you're in the car) than on the desktop, especially since you could just go to the SiriusXM website to look at the channels!

Unfortunately it's a little hard to get accurate data from the Windows Dev Center on the PC/phone mix, but I'm pretty sure the majority of Windows 10 downloads of SatRadioGuide have come on the PC. In fact, all the in-app purchases on Windows 10 have come on the PC!

My guess is that this is mostly because of install base - there are (by some estimates) 180 million desktop machines that are running Windows 10, and only around 1 million phones. (the number of phones will go up as Windows 10 is officially released for older Lumia models, but still!) Even if a much smaller percentage of people on desktop machines are looking for apps, that install base difference is enormous.

The nice part about the UWP is that many controls adapt to work well on different screen sizes, so it takes a lot less effort to design for both. For SatRadioGuide looking at the Master/detail sample was very helpful. But even if it takes more work, I've concluded that it's worth the effort!

2. IAPs need to be more than just removing ads

Another strategy I've used in the past is making my apps free with ads and including an In-App Purchase to turn them off. This had the nice property of working on all of my apps without too much thought. The problem is that apparently this is not a very compelling upgrade, because the sales numbers have been very low.

And, honestly, I can kind of understand this. Even if it's only 99 cents, when I see the option to remove ads in an app I'm hesitant to buy it. Is it really worth it? It feels like I'm getting very little in return.

Instead, for SatRadioGuide I spent some extra time and added a "Seasonal Stations" feature where you could view the temporary stations that pop up from time to time. I then made the in-app purchase be to show seasonal stations and remove ads, and I raised the price to $2.99. I wasn't sure if the price was too high, but since it takes ongoing work by me to keep it up to date, it felt reasonable.

And lo and behold, people have been buying! In raw numbers it's not too impressive, but it's more than had been buying the "remove ads" IAP, and since the price went up the revenue difference is substantial.

So, from now on I'm going to try to find extra features that I can add to an IAP. For Know Your States, when I ported it to UWP I added a map quiz behind an IAP, and I'm hopeful that people will think it's worth upgrading.


See all my Windows/Windows Phone development posts. I also send out a monthly-or-so email with news for developers - check out the latest email and sign up here!

I'm planning on writing more posts about Windows Phone development - what would you like to hear about? Reply here, on twitter at @gregstoll, or by email at greg@gregstoll.com.
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friday linked list: living 18 miles from Mom, Volkswagen, food stamps [Jan. 8th, 2016|02:58 pm]
[Current Mood |busybusy]

- The Typical American Lives Only 18 Miles From Mom - I found this pretty surprising.

- What Was Volkswagen Thinking? On the origins of corporate evil—and idiocy - indeed

- In Defense Of Food Stamps: Why The White House Sings SNAP's Praises - because it reduces poverty!

- Is Uber ripping off its drivers? The woman who beat Starbucks and FedEx in court says yes - I really like the idea behind Uber, but I'm not a fan of the "contractorization" of Uber and similar startups.

- Get to Know the Monmouth Bench Mob - pretty great if you like weird college basketball celebrations!

- The ‘Miracle’ Program That Actually Reduces Gun Violence - sounds like a good program

- The most misleading charts of 2015, fixed - that global warming one makes me laugh every time (thanks James!)

- The Dorks Awaken, Hopefully (star wars SPOILERS) - I hadn't thought about it this way, but I agree!

- At long last...my “Star Wars: Episode VII” review. The Force Awakens & the rise of idiot journalism. (star wars SPOILERS) - excellent takedown of a ridiculous article

- Here is the crazy story of a guy who embezzled a lot of money from a bakery. I found it interesting how he got away with it for so long and no one suspected him...

- Normalization of Deviance in Software: How Completely Messed Up Practices Become Normal - I'm starting to realize that I contribute to this :-( Listen to new people!

- Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally must really love to do puzzles - hahaha what?
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Know Your States now available for Windows 10! [Jan. 5th, 2016|09:09 am]
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[Current Mood |tiredtired]

Know Your States is now available for Windows 10! It's a great way to learn and quiz yourself about state capitals, flags, trees, etc. New in this version is a devilishly hard state capitals quiz (seriously, try it!) and the ability to quiz yourself on state locations on a map. (with in-app purchase)

Get it on Windows 10

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The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal review [Dec. 30th, 2015|10:19 pm]
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[Current Mood |tiredtired]

The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and BetrayalThe Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal by David E. Hoffman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was an excellent tale of Soviet espionage. The author based a lot of the story on primary material like cables between the CIA and their Moscow station, so you get a lot of insight into what it was like to work there and run spies.

My favorite anecdote is that a couple that worked at the Moscow station knew they were being followed by the KGB (a not uncommon occurrence) on their way to a party, but they weren't sure where exactly the party was. They pulled over after they realized they were lost, and one of the KGB cars made a turn and effectively led them to the party!

View all my reviews
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pre-Christmas linked list: José y Maria, truthfulness of politicians, safer hospitals [Dec. 23rd, 2015|03:00 pm]
[Current Mood |cheerfulcheerful]

- José y Maria - very striking image!

- All Politicians Lie. Some Lie More Than Others. - even discounting Donald Trump and Ben Carson (because: wow), it's striking that all the Republicans have a higher percentage of false statements than all (but one) of the Democrats. Obviously there's some margin of error here and you can argue some individual statements might be miscategorized, but in aggregate the picture is striking.

- Why adults have to stop trying so darn hard to control how children play

- Fewer Patients Have Been Dying From Hospital Errors Since Obamacare Started - an estimate of 87,000 lives saved since 2010, which is huge!

- Martin Shkreli Accused of Being Surprisingly Good at Fraud - so he lost a bunch of money, lied about it, and then made the money back!

- How we made: The Muppet Christmas Carol - yay!

- Researchers think that a dangerous 'back door' in software used by the US government was caused by the NSA - it's unclear who introduced the back door (and whether it was intentional), but it was definitely actively exploited.

- The cold fusion horizon - I heard a talk about some "excess heat effect" studies at work and was surprised that cold fusion is still a possibility, although not too likely.

- Get rich or die vlogging: The sad economics of internet fame - it can be hard to translate internet fame into money, especially when people call you a "sellout"...
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friday linked list: beggar CEOs, rising middle-age white mortality, your memory and the internet [Dec. 11th, 2015|02:26 pm]
[Current Mood |cheerfulcheerful]

- The Beggar CEO and Sucker Culture - so good!

- You Can't Understand American Politics Without Reading This Study - this study about rising middle-age white mortality has been out for a little while, but it's so surprising and scary it's hard to know what to make of it, other than it's very bad. (and may partially explain the appeal of people like Donald Trump?)

- The internet is eating your memory, but something better is taking its place - unless some civilization-destroying catastrophe happens, using technology to do the grunt work of remembering seems like a good tradeoff.

- The five keys to a successful Google team - neat that Google is doing this kind of research and making it public!

- A Good Night’s Sleep Is Tied to Interruptions, Not Just Hours

- How to Get More Dads to Take Paternity Leave - sigh, gender issues. But step 1 is to get a reasonable paternity leave policy...*ahem*

- The envelope paradox - I've read about this paradox before, but didn't realize there was a way to win more than 50% of the time. Infinities are hard!

- Microsoft Ad Calls for Truce With Apple, if Only for the Holidays - aww!

- ‘Star Wars’-Themed Movie Theater Opens in Nebraska - if you guessed this was the doings of the Alamo Drafthouse, you are correct!

- In Defense of Benny from 'Rent' - umm, yes

- If you like "The Sound of Silence", perhaps you'll like this cover by Disturbed. It's good stuff!
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SatRadioGuide (a SiriusXM channel guide) now available for Windows 10! [Nov. 24th, 2015|08:47 pm]
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[Current Mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

SatRadioGuide is now available for Windows 10! New in this version is the ability to look at seasonal channels, which is available with an in-app purchase.

Download from Windows Store
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friday linked list: westboro baptist church conversion, red mercury [Nov. 20th, 2015|05:08 pm]
[Current Mood |happyhappy]

- Unfollow: How a prized daughter of the Westboro Baptist Church came to question its beliefs - wow, a very interesting and mostly uplifting story!

- The Doomsday Scam - long article about "red mercury", which is supposedly a chemical that can produce a nuclear-like explosion, and a bunch of other outlandish things. But terrorists to this day believe in it! (the article is mostly about ISIS's attempts to acquire red mercury)

- History Is Made As Virginia Becomes The First State To Eliminate Veteran Homelessness - neat, good for them! (thanks Emily!)

- Our New Sid Meier's Civilization Inspired Budget - neat! We have a somewhat similar setup that tries to correct for one-time expenses, known monthly expenses, etc.

- The Islands Where Guns Proliferated—but Not Gun Crime - Hawaii has a fairly high rate of gun ownership, but a low rate of gun homicide and suicide. The theory is that this is the case because Hawaii has fairly strict gun laws and it's hard for illegal guns to get there, because, you know, it's really far away from other states. Interesting article, but if that's the case it's not exactly a model we could follow in other states...

- Go go gadget cruise ship - a video of cutting a cruise ship in half to insert a piece and make a bigger cruise ship! Crazy!

- What Lies Beneath - did Israel steal a bunch of uranium from Pennsylvania in the 1960's? The answer is a resounding maybe.
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