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Monthly Archives: November 2009

I’ve been fortunate to have every one of my app submissions pass through the first time, except for one, one of the Grand Tour-3D (Solar System simulator)  updates.

The concern was with a statement about the “cost” of my app in the description as it might cause confusion in
foreign markets. The rules are simply to never mention price in the copy, let the Appstore figure out the price for the various countries. Makes sense of course. Except for the line that did state a “price:”

This little gem had been there for the previous submissions with nary a mention:

• Costs about $149,999,995.01 less then the Voyager probes.

Yup, we wouldn’t want any one in Poland think that I meant Zlotys, it
might confuse the little darlin’s if they wanted to purchase a Voyager
interplanetary probe of their own.

Sigh. I lost several days with that, considering that the app was bounced and had to go to the back of the line for a fix that took about 10 seconds and did nothing with the code.

I had a chance to speak with the Appstore director about perhaps letting rejected apps jump to the front of the line if the changes took less then a day to implement.



To celebrate the release of Distant Suns 2 and the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first lunar observations I am giving away a Celestron Firstscope and Distant Suns promo codes.

On the clear evening of November 30, 1609, Galileo trained his first crude telescope towards the moon. What he saw amazed him and changed mankind’s view of the world, the Universe and his role in it. No longer was the moon a silvery smooth orb, but it was covered with dark dusty planes, craggy mountain ranges and innumerable craters.

What better way to celebrate this event then giving out a Celestron Firstscope telescope. This is very lightweight 3″ Dobsonian reflector telescope, ideal for the family or lazy-astronomers like me who don’t want to haul out a 40 pound instrument just to take a quick look at Jupiter. (I’m schlepping one down to Easter Island and Patagonia next summer).

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With only 11 days in review, I am pleased to announce that Distant Suns 2 has just been given Apple’s blessing.

The major features are the addition of mythological images for each of the constellations, more than 10x the amount of stars down to 10th magnitude, speedups of up to 30%, many new selectable star rendering options and dozens of UI tweaks.

I’d love your comments and suggestions. And if you have any trouble with the thing, let me know what device and OS you are running.

Meanwhile, here are some screenshots:

If you are here because of my alert on Weather Planet, welcome. I have been surprised by some of the ratings it has been getting, so can only think that there is some issue, be it a bug, or wacky UI problem, that is causing some folks some headaches. Please let me know what they might be as I am starting to work on the next rev and would like to make it an elegant and fun (i.e., not frustrating) app to use.

Update (and mini-FAQ):

Thanks to all for the kind words and taking the time to respond. I’ll try and answer the most common remarks here, then personally for very specific items.

Q: How about showing the cloud motions over time?

A: This is the most common request, and could only be done in one of two ways. The user (you know who you are), would have to keep their phone or touch on constantly through the day to fetch enough images to make a usable animation. The other way would be for me to do a lot of server backend stuff to generate animations then ship them down to the client software. Most wouldn’t want to do the first, and I don’t have the time or the experience right now to do the latter. Not to mention that that would be a fairly large file.

Q: Nice software, but the clouds are blanked out sometimes. What gives, dude?

A: I’m glad you asked. If you get a partial cloudmap with another part just white or gray, that’s coming from the weather satellites or at least the ground stations that receive the original images. So nothing I can do there, I personally see it about once every week or two. The other issue is with a completely blank earth. I have seen only once on my iPhone, but every week or so in the simulator. It is very hard to reproduce to track it down. A simple exit and restart slaps the software back into shape though. It is on my list, and I check it almost every day in the dev system to see if it happens again.

Q: The dark side’s too dark, even with ambient light.

A: I think I see what you mean. I added the ambient light to increase the cloud visibility, but I see that some of the “darker” landmasses still are invisible such as that Europe thingy. So I’ll add a feature to turn off the dark entirely.

Q: Can’t this sucker scroll to my last position?

A: It was on the original feature list, but I just ran out of time. Enough of you kind folks have requested it so it will be at the top.

Q: I get tired of the &&*#% messages asking if it is ok to use my location!

A: That’s a system issue, the iPhone generates those messages on its own. However I notice that it stops asking after a while. I don’t know what the algorithm is, but I’ll see if there is a way to minimize them.

Q: I would love higher resolution earth images.

A: So would I! But the iPhone’s graphics hardware had a limit on the resolutions of the images it can use (1024×1024). This has been increased starting with the 3GS and the 3rd generation iPod/touches. For the older gear there are work arounds, but it’s messy. For the newer gear, I should silently switch over to using the better images.

Q: Weather Planet is like, really really awesome! Do you have any other software with the same level of awesomage?

A: Glad you asked! Check out Grand Tour-3D and Distant Suns. You’ll be glad you did.