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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).

Read More »

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.

The final event of the International Year of Astronomy begins this evening, October 23 and lasts until Sunday. Called Galilean Nights, it is meant to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s discoveries. If you have an active amateur astronomy club in your area you will probably find then hosting a public “star party” focussing on Galileo’s two favorite targets: the Moon and Jupiter.

If you have Distant Suns on our iPhone/iPod touch, remember to take that with you and show it around. And prepare to watch jaws drop.

For further information about Galilean Nights and any events in your area check out

Keep looking up!

Read “crash”. I just found out that if you have location services turned off WP rather ungracefully crashes. Folks in the boonies might have a problem with the app in that case, so the next rev will have a manual location option.

Got a nice one at:

36,000 miles above the North Dakota.

36,000 miles above the North Dakota.

I was pleased today when Apple sent me a nice little note announcing that my latest app was approved for sale.

Weather Planet 1.0 gives you a “private” weather satellite as it shows you an alien’s eye view from thousands of miles above our home. Continually  updated clouds reflect current conditions as you can add any city you like from a database of thousands around the world. Scan mode will hop from city to city showing current weather and temperature. Want more? You can bring up detailed weather forecasts courtesy of Weather Underground.

Want to watch the seasons change? Different Earth textures load in each month, letting you see the advance and retreat of the winter’s snow cover.

The background contains all 88 constellations and the moon for a more realistic view.

Hope you enjoy it. And now back to Distant Suns….

I just created a Distant Suns group on Facebook.

Stop on by and say hello.


As of 2/2010 this blog has been moved over to :

For those who have bought my iPhone app, Distant Suns, may a thousand blessings rain upon you as a fresh spring rain. For those who haven’t purchased it yet, I am very disappointed in you. But I can wait…..I’m waiting….

While I am waiting, consider this my support blog. I’ll take bug reports and enhancement requests here and hopefully build a little community around what I think is a great little app. Also, please make sure to leave a review on the app page. It bugs me to see a game with about 4 bazillion reviews, a GAME! Sheesh…

Also, DS has some nice website reviews:

You may fetch Distant Suns here and Grand Tour, over here.