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DevMate and Paddle are merging, and it’s great news for devs

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MacPaw has announced that DevMate, their set of application developer tools, is merging with Paddle. This is exciting news, and a potential boon for any Mac developer.

I’ve used Paddle as the payment processor in Marked since the release of Marked 2 (and subsequent introduction to the non-MAS market) a few years ago. It’s been a great experience, especially since it’s so easy and seamless to implement. Since then they’ve added some excellent analytics and reporting tools to the SDK and dashboard. DevMate, on the other hand, has offered a more complete set of analytics, but they’ve relied on external services for payment processing. Combining these two is, as far as I can see, the best of both worlds, and makes the new platform a strong leader.

DevMate is continuing to be DevMate, but all of its features will be integrated into Paddle. DevMate users can choose to switch to Paddle and maintain all of their tools, plus get Paddle’s slick payment and licensing options. History with both services makes me confident that the tools provided to developers for integration will be simple, flexible, and easy to integrate. There’s a FAQ on the DevMate blog geared toward current users that answers a lot of questions.

Web Excursions for May 17, 2017

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Web excursions brought to you by MightyDeals.com, featuring great deals on software, training, and design resources.

CMD-D Conference
Paul Kent, along with Apple Automation legend Sal Soghoian and PR veteran Naomi Peace, have announced a new conference dedicated entirely to Mac Automation. It’s on August 9th (with an optional scripting bootcamp on the 8th) at the Santa Clara Convention Center. Registration is open now. I’m sincerely hoping to find a way to make it to this one after Macstock!
learn anything
A mindmap created by Nikita Voloboev and hosted by MindNode with a network of topics, subtopics, and links for just about every area of knowledge you could want to dig into.
50 Useful Command Line Tools Developers Will Love
A sizable roundup of cool command line utilities ranging from web development to time tracking. There’s even a cool Facebook CLI I hadn’t seen before. (And one of my projects, doing, made the list).
Keeping Apple History Alive at MacPaw
MacPaw has pulled together an impressive collection of almost 40 machines from across the history of Apple in a museum you can visit next time you’re in Kyiv.
Placeit (with video)
I’ve mentioned Placeit before. It lets you upload screenshots and frame them in high quality stock photos of any device. Since the last time I’ve mentioned it, they’ve added the ability to put screen recordings into devices and save as video, as well as a whole section of t-shirt and poster mockups with models and settings. (It appears to be what Teespring is using now for the marketing photos they generate for user campaigns.) It’s not cheap ($8 for a one-off high-res mockup), but the quality is worth it for anyone serious about marketing.

User reviews matter

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I’ve talked about this before, here and on my podcasts. Online reviews are a matter of life and death for an app or a business. (And, sadly, all review systems are broken in some way.) This infographic from Website Builder offers some stats that show I’m not crazy.

Leaving a one-star review because you have a complaint about an app that you otherwise love or really want to work is a homicidal thing to do. On app stores where the developer can’t respond to you, especially, you’re basically throwing a support request into the wind, and potentially causing serious damage to an app’s credibility — and thus the chances that the developer will make enough money to bother fixing your problem.

Before you leave that single star, think about how much you’d like the app if it weren’t for that issue. Leave those stars, and then feel free to mention your “just one problem,” or better yet, go to the support site link for the app and get the issue fixed. Then leave your review, along with glowing praise about responsive developers. Trust me, this technique benefits you as much as it does the dev or business.

My other point of frustration is the varying interpretations of a 5-star scale. For some users, 3 stars means their experience is perfectly satisfactory. They reserve 5 stars for the “holy shit that was amazing” experiences. If you read through the list of any frequently-reviewed app, you’ll see people give 3 stars and then a glowing review. Meanwhile, the majority of users start with 5 stars representing “this improved my life and I had no problems.” Then they subtract stars for each major issue. By the time they get down to 3 stars, they’re having serious complaints, and one star reviews are left out of rage or offense.

Mixing these varying interpretations means that it’s only a matter of which type of user or customer left the most reviews, rather than actually having valid comparisons between products or establishments. You’re going to see a thumbnail display of options with nothing but average star results, and the one you click is generally going to be the one with the most stars. You probably won’t even take the time to note that the one with 4 stars has 917 reviews, while the one with 5 only has 12.

Thus, you have to go with the lowest common denominator (by which I mean the offset of the scale, not the user). If you love an app, go leave a 5-star rating. Or, leave a 3 or 4-star rating and update it when the app improves. If a developer rips you off, or provides horrible support on something that cost you more than $1.99, go leave a 1-star review and let it be helpful as a warning to others. While you’re at it, start leaving reviews for your favorite businesses, too, using the same philosophy. It matters. Again, the infographic is my case in point. Thanks to Website Builder for the insight.

Positive Fungi

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Alternate title for this post: “Fungyes”. You’ll get it in a second. If after reading this you’re still unsatisfied with the title, please provide your suggestions in the comments1. Make sure you read to the end to get the morel of the story. Again, you’ll get that in a sec.

I reconnected with an old friend recently. We’d been at the same concerts a couple of times, and had hung out once. Then I got a message asking if I wanted to go mushroom hunting. I didn’t pause to reflect on the fact that I historically do not enjoy eating mushrooms, or to see what the weather would be like, or to note that I had no idea how to hunt mushrooms. I just said “sure.”

I have a bad habit of saying yes to certain types of things. Projects that sound exciting, people that I’d be honored to work with, anything that sounds profitable, whether monetarily or emotionally. Lately I’ve subscribed to the idea that saying “yes” to something means saying “no” to something else. That’s not my idea, I’ve picked it up from “productivity folks” because it makes a lot of sense.

There are plenty of things I habitually say no to, though. Going to concerts. Folding laundry. Hosting parties. Hosting children. Having children. Going deep off trail to hunt for fungus I don’t want. I guess the theme would be “things that seem mildly inconvenient or may end badly.” But lately “yes” has seemed like the more interesting option in many cases.

At first it wasn’t at all intentional. I’d already started changing my life and habits, losing weight, being active, being more social. I found that once in a while an opportunity would present itself and without going through my usual thought process (“well, here’s how that could go wrong,” or “here’s a list of things that would be less likely to suck”), I just started saying “yes.” Yes, I’ll go to that show with you. Yes, I’d love to have that couple over for dinner. Yes, I’ll hold your baby for a minute.

So when my friend suggested a mushroom hunt, and I jumped in without question, I found myself actually looking forward to it. I even started wondering if I still hated mushrooms. It turned out that the hiking and searching and walking and talking were great fun. The hours flew by. We didn’t find the morels we were ostensibly looking for, but I learned what Pheasant Back Mushrooms (Dryad’s Saddle) are and how to cook them. And that I liked them. I got caught up with a friend I’d become disconnected from and realized I should have stayed in touch. With a lot of people.

These experiences I’ve said yes to have, overall, turned out to be enjoyable. Sure, sometimes things went wrong in exactly the way I would have imagined they’d go wrong if I’d stopped to worry about it. Sometimes, such as in the case of holding a baby, things turned out just fine (thankfully for all involved). Sometimes they were experiences I would later realize I would regret not having been a part of. Even when they turned out poorly, though, it wasn’t as big a deal. I didn’t leave thinking “I TOLD YOU SO, I NEVER SHOULD HAVE COME.” I just thought “bummer.” I used to think that having low expectations would increase the likelihood that things seemed better when they were just mediocre, but it really doesn’t.

Having high expectations makes things more exciting from the start. You’re not waiting for good things to just happen to you. You’re being a part of things. You’re sharing everyone’s excitement. Whether it’s waiting for a band to take the stage or meeting a friend for coffee, or even learning a new programming language, being interested in things turning out well has a substantial effect on whether things will turn out well. Or at least whether you’ll enjoy them turning out well. Disappointment when they don’t is a small price to pay for actually having been present, having taken the chance at making something great.

I’ve always been an optimist in many areas. Social situations and unusual endeavors have not generally been among them. But I’m not the grumpy old man I was a year or two ago. I’m still working on saying no at the right times, but getting better at saying yes to potentially uncomfortable yet enriching things.

So that’s my rant. I don’t read articles like this. I have to assume that none of this is a surprising new concept to anyone but me, and that there’s probably a section of every bookstore that I’ve instinctively avoided full of tomes on this topic. That’s fine, I’m a tactile learner. I’ll just keep taking notes on my mistakes and successes until I have it all figured out and/or die. Whichever happens first.

  1. Let me clearly state that I will not be changing the title of this post. I just want to give you an outlet for your frustration and/or comedy genius.

Web Excursions for May 02, 2017

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Web excursions brought to you in partnership with Creatable and The Mac Pick A Bundle 2017. One day left to choose from 30 great Mac apps, 10 apps for $39, or all 30 for $99.

A nicely done app from Eltima that mounts your S3, OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, and FTP/WebDAV drives in Finder.
Using Marked 2 for Academic Writing
A great video from Nicholas Cifuentes-Goodbody documenting the use of Marked 2 with Pandoc for Academic writing.
Rocket-fast, Slack-style emoji everywhere on your Mac
A free Mac app that makes typing emoji faster and easier using Slack-style shortcuts.
As an alternative to Unroll.me, this open source Google Script helps easily unsubscribe from newsletters and bulk emails in Gmail. Without giving anyone permission to scrape your inbox.
Blurr for Chrome
A Chrome plugin for anonymizing your digital footprint using obfuscation.
LivePhotosKit JS
Did you know that there’s a javascript library for playing Apple’s Live Photos on the web? It has a full API for customizing controls and playback options. I’m not certain I’ll find anything useful to do with it, but smart move on Apple’s part to start opening the format up to legitimate use outside of Photos.

Support BrettTerpstra.com by checking out the great apps in The Mac Pick A Bundle 2017!

Why you should have Macstock on your calendar

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Just so I don’t bury the lede, here’s a coupon code for $30 off Macstock tickets: MACSTOCK30OFF

Macstock is a relatively new conference that takes place in July near Chicago. After the demise of the Macworld conference, I was happy to see something starting up that would help satisfy my love of seeing all the people I follow and communicate with in the Mac world. So I went last year.

I loved it. While not nearly as well-attended as Macworld had become, the people who showed up were exactly the kind of people I wanted to connect with. The speaker lineup was fun, I learned a lot of new tricks, and got to talk with some of my favorite writers and podcasters. So this year I pitched a talk and guess what? I’ll be presenting!

I’m presenting on Spotlight. All the things you don’t know about Spotlight and how it can make your workflow and everyday life on your Mac smarter, faster, and more fun. There’s a great lineup of speakers, including Kirschen Seah of Free Range Coder, Mike Schmitz from Asian Efficiency and ScreenCastsOnline, Melissa Davis (TheMacMommy), Wally Cherwinski (whose presentation last year sparked my renewed interest in iPhone photography/videography), and Dave Hamilton, Bryan Chaffin, and Jeff Gamet from The Mac Observer.

Macstock is happening July 15th and 16th this year. You can attend one day for $89, both days for $169, and get the Premium ticket for $199, which includes Barry’s Midwest Mac Mingle and a complementary Macstock 2017 pint glass. And here’s a special deal… use MACSTOCK30OFF when registering for $30 off the 2-day or premium tickets.

Killing the iTunes Affiliate

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I got an email from the iTunes Affiliate program at Apple today. It announced a great new website for ease of creating affiliate links. It closed out with the unapologetic statement that, by the way, the standard 7% earnings on app sales will be 2.5% starting May 1st.

First off, if you’re not familiar with affiliate linking, it’s when you add a code to a link to a product that gives you a commission on the sale. It cost nothing for the user who clicks it, and it serves as a way to encourage people to send others to buy the product. In most cases (and in the case of iTunes), the user doesn’t have to purchase the product they clicked into; anything they purchase from the company within a set timeframe will earn you a commission.

I use affiliate links on everything. I’ve built many tools, including SearchLink to make this easy, and it generates a small portion of my monthly income. Not a lot, but it’s enough to notice. On an average month, I’ll make about $200. With this cut, that same amount of traffic will bring me about $75 dollars. A popular post written for MacStories can earn me $200 in affiliate sales on its own. Again, that’s now $75. And the average post, even with MacStories traffic, earns $20 to $30… which is now $10 or less. It’s a drastic cut to mention in passing just one week before it takes effect.

Most people don’t make significant income off affiliate linking, but it doesn’t cost the writer anything and it earns something. But there are many sites whose business model is built on affiliate linking, in part or in whole. And it works. Well, it used to.

Talking with John Voorhees, an active MacStories contributor and creator of Blink, an iOS app specifically for creating iTunes affiliate links, we pondered possible reasons for this cut and its potential fallout. My best guess is this: Apple hosts a lot of free apps. They don’t make much of a cut on things that don’t cost money. But, if someone clicks in for a free app from an affiliate link, they still have to pay a commission on everything else that user buys before the link’s timeframe runs out. The link still brought them sales, though, and they’re only paying out on things they make money on. It’s a bit mysterious to me.

I can only assume that the investment isn’t paying off enough to continue at the 7% level. Plus, people using affiliate links aren’t spending anything to do so, so even a huge cut like this probably won’t cause any of us to stop doing it. Apple really doesn’t stand to lose traffic on this, only save money. I don’t love the idea, but it’s a winning proposition for Apple.

I doubt there’s a real lack of traffic to the App Stores in general, or that affiliate links count for a significant portion of traffic that otherwise wouldn’t be going to the App Store. What’s curious to me is that the cut applies only to apps, not to Music or Books, or anything else you can purchase through iTunes. It’s possible that this announcement is indicative of a further shift in the App Store business model, but I’m not going to speculate further without more information.

I’m guessing some sites you read are going to be showing you a few more ads. Some may shut down completely. I won’t be one of them, but I’ll be going out to eat less often until I replace the revenue.