Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Job Recruiters

I'm never super excited talking to job recruiters. I understand their jobs are hard. But any job where the person is paid based on commissions makes me suspicious of that person's actions. Sales people who work on commission don't want you to buy something and return it, but other than that they get rewarded for selling you things that you keep. It doesn't matter much beyond that. Like whether you need it, whether a cheaper product would be as good or better etc.

So in general I make the assumption that someone working on a commission isn't looking out for me. They're trying to maximize how much money they make for their time.

Job recruiters work in the same kind of commissioned way usually. Some are employees of companies. And that's awesome. But most, at least that call me, work on some kind of commission basis. Maybe they get a flat fee for filling a position, or a percentage of your hourly rate if you're contracting etc. I updated my resume on today and got a bunch of email and calls from recruiters. Overall that's nice. I like to feel wanted. But a lot of the time the recruiters have no idea what I'm good at, what I like, or sometimes what city I'm in. They just want to fill some position and saw a couple keywords on my resume. It's weird.

Today was my first, I think, experience getting a call from recruiters in India. At first I thought it was just someone with a fantastically thick accent who was calling locally even though his caller ID came out weird looking "+40 890 791 13." The number was intended to look like "+408 907-9113," but my iPhone changed the formatting because of the +. I did a quick Google search while we were on the phone and figured out he was calling from India. Anyway, the job he described sounded good, but overall the experience was a little sketchy. I'm still suspicious of the whole thing. I spoke with him, sent him my resume, and then he had his manager call me. Next I'm supposed to get a call from (I assume another recruiter) at some US-based recruiting company.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Yucatan

I paid a company ~$600 to restore a crashed hard drive of mine. It had all our honeymoon pictures and more on it. I'm a lot better about doing backups now... Anyway I need to start gettin' some value out of this rescued drive so here's a story with some pictures from the trip.

Kelly and I went to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico for our honeymoon. We have some great stories and pictures. But overall if you asked either of us we'd primarily say how it was really really humid there. Also. Small towns are boring after a few hours.

We started off in Cancun because it was easy to fly there. We stayed at some big hotel which was okay, but really we wanted to see Mayan ruins and other cool stuff. We exclusively rode on buses from city to city. It was cheap and avoided our enormous fear of driving in Mexico. Plus the delicious (super strong) smell of strawberries was a frequent feature. :) Anyway, we left Cancun for small cities and towns, like Merida. Eventually we finished up all of that and flew to Mexico City.

Mexico City was really fun. Tons of cool things to see. A 24-hour Churros & Chocalate place that h ad been there for like 70 years. It was amazing. A guy on the street was doing cool oil paintings on CDs. There were tons of people, things to see and great food. Anyway, I'll post more stories and pictures another time. Today's quick story is about Merida.

There wasn't a lot to see in Merida. We covered the touristy stuff (I think a cenote and maybe that was it) in a few hours. We were bored and looking for a bakery. Kelly and I like to scout out bakeries and barber shops or weird salons in foreign countries. I don't know why. Although baked goods are good. I mean... they have "Good" in the name, right? And I like to get my hair cut. We didn't find a great bakery, but man oh man we found a fantastic barber shop. See the pictures to the right... This time I didn't get a haircut, but I did ask the barber to give me shave. My barber-related Spanish is not-so-good.

I showed the barber I wanted him to get rid of my whole beard. He had a straight razor which was kind of scary. And I wondered how clean it was. Good times. More importantly... he gave me a mustache like I never had before. I didn't want a mustache but I thought I'd see how it came out. Pretty funny is the answer there. One advantage was that from that day on strangers ALWAYS thought we were from Europe instead of from the US. Cultural differences are weird. Guy with kind of weird beard = From US. Guy with kind of weird mustache = Clearly European.

Kelly liked it. Or at least she said she liked it. I have a conspiracy theory that she actually advises me to dress or shave in ways that make me look crazy so other women won't even look at me. Well, maybe they'd just look in horror. I made it three days before I had to get rid of it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Vector Conflict: The Siege

Hey, my game developer friend, Oliver, just finished a really fun Flash game -- Vector Conflict: The Siege. For you old timers it's like Battlezone (1980), but an order of magnitude more fun and you don't have to drive a tank around. That's BattleZone to the left. I played Vector Conflict on "Medium" and it was fun, but very tense at times. The levels are really well designed. Once you master the tutorial you can play the endless mode and try to get a high score.

What makes the game fun is that there's a good mix of bad guys, and they're introduced gradually through the 10-level tutorial. Plus there are upgrades. Everyone loves upgrades, right? So you shoot a lot of bad guys, that come in waves, and each level is different... then you decide what to use your resources to upgrade or buy.

Anyway, it's fun and free. Check it out.

Also. See if you can buy another copy of my iPhone solitaire game. Maybe create a new iTunes account and buy it. Okay, thanks. Or tell your friends. Okay? Well, I'm worried it's going down in the Card Games rankings in the App Store. :( Gotta finish the free version...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Eric Snider's Solitaire: Klondike -- Ready for sale!

I just checked Apple again to see if my iPhone solitaire game was approved. I check every 9 minutes. It's said "In Review" the last 1000 times I checked in the past 11 days. I've been dreading the email that would say "Sorry, Solitaire wasn't approved because we don't allow applications to include images of clouds." Or something nutty like that which would mean another round of fixes and submitting the game again.

But no! Some fantastic reviewers at Apple have approved Solitaire. It's not in the store, yet. But from what I know it should appear in the next hour or so.

I'm going to call everyone I know.


If you're stumbling onto this page because you bought Solitaire then please leave me a comment or question. I'm nice. I'll help you. If enough people ask for features or new games... I'll add them. Or make them. You'll see.

Thanks again to everyone who helped me with Solitaire.

Update: It took a few hours but then it appeared in the store. It had the wrong release date though (it was showing the date I submitted it). Is there an "App Store for Dummies" book yet? 'Cause there are a lot of crazy things about submitting apps to Apple... Anyway, I changed the release date as a friend advised and now it's in the new games listings.

Here's a link if you're looking for it: This link includes my iTunes affiliate info so I'll get 5% extra on sales that use that link. So... feel free to use it, give it out, print t-shirts, use it as your new nickname... :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Did you mean...?

I'm working on some iPhone programming and had a question about something. Google didn't turn up anything great so I just searched for help in the Apple Developer Forums. I searched for

opengl view tabbarcontroller

and the forum page offered this helpful advice:

Did you mean: openly view Tabasco

Monday, September 14, 2009

Making stuff with yeast

Yeast is weird, and cool. At least if you're baking with it. I made bagels from scratch yesterday and they come out really really good. I used our bread maker to do the mixing etc, but I boiled 'em and baked 'em. Anyway, here's the bread-machine bagel recipe. The bagels came out better looking than the picture. Kelly and the kids were napping when the bagels were done. I tried the most misshapen one. It was good. Really good. I figured I'd better try one of the bigger bagels. You know, to make sure it was done in the middle. It was done. I almost ate the other nine bagels immediately but I think the nappers started waking up and I wasn't sure how I was going to explain myself.

To continue SUPER FUN BAKING WITH YEAST WEEK I looked around for more recipes. What started this all was I saw an episode of Good Eats with Alton Brown about cinnamon rolls. So that's what I'm making now. Well, we're in preparation to make them. All the ingredients need to be at room temperature. It's ridiculous. Also it requires lots of egg yolks. So we had to figure out what to do with all the egg whites. The answer: Chocolate meringue cookies. They're baking right now... We didn't put any chocolate chips in. But we're kind of heretics like that. We usually don't go for the super double chocolatey desserts. I'll go take some pictures so this won't be so boring.

Next up: Cinnamon Roll report.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Making Pizzas

I've been making pizzas with pre-made dough from Trader Joe's in the last couple months. A few came out amazing, but many came out just okay. It turns out our oven is crappy. It's this weird little European one that only goes up to 450 degrees and only has a burner on top. A combination to ensure our pizzas are never very crispy or cooked quickly.

Anyway, I was googlin' up some Alton Brown* stuff to scout out his cinnamon roll recipe. I stumbled onto some people griping about some pizza dough recipe of his and found a link to this Pizza-making page -- The Ridiculously Thorough Guide to Making Your Own Pizza It looks good and I want to remember it. So now it's in my blog. You can use it too, if you want. Normally I'd just choose "Add Bookmark..." and save a link to the page in my web browser. I'm totally ineffective at saving bookmarks to good web sites though. Well... that's not true. I'm very effective at saving them. I've never in my entire life used a bookmarked site after bookmarking it though. The good news there is that when something goes wrong and I lose all my web browser settings I hardly notice the difference.

* Alton Brown has a show called "Good Eats" which is really good. At least for geeks. He's geeky, likes science and is weird and funny. He's also the host on the American version of Iron Chef.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

I Hate Ad Hoc Distribution on the iPhone

Seriously. Ad Hoc Distribution? I hate it. I've wasted so much time with it. Apple has such tight control over distribution to iPhones and iPod Touches that you can't just download and install an application on your device. More importantly my testers can't install my game without having things just so. There are all these hoops to jump through to set up provisioning files etc. It's not super difficult, but there are lots of places to go wrong because there are so many steps. Half of my testers have run into problems because of iTunes, some mistake I made, or who knows why. I have too. From my end sometimes the solution is to ignore the errors that Xcode is reporting and just restart my iPhone. For users we've done a lot of trial and error. I'm sure there are some testers who just punted and gave up.

My artist, Andy, wasn't able to run Solitaire for a month and a half. Really. I made new builds. It worked for other people. It worked for new testers. No prob. I started just making screen capture movies for him so he could see what the game looks like. We were joking about how he should sell his iPhone on eBay. He could market it to people who need a phone but hate solitaire.

The reason I'm writing this post is that once again Google has saved the day. I found the iPhone Configuration Utility (wtf? I never heard of this thing before) and with it Andy was able to clean out the old version(s?) of Solitaire and install the new one. I don't know what iTunes is doing, but it's clearly f'd up. I hate iTunes. The interface is so bad. And it's non-standard in these horrible ways. Like you click the zoom button and expect the window will ZOOM. But instead the window changes into a tiny weird control panel. Also. the UI button to close, zoom and minimize all move. Beautifully, the buttons only differ in color. That's fantastic UI design for all of us who are red/green color-blind. The buttons have moved and the whole window looks different instead of zooming like 99.9% of all other apps would have done. WTF! Maybe I'll write about the horrible ways iTunes handles focus on lists. I swear to you it never does what I expect when I use the arrow keys to try to do something.

Okay. So iTunes, right? Once it has a problem installing an ad hoc app it just loses its mind. It's just crazy. It's like "Hey, how ya doin'? I'm iTunes. What? Yeah. I installed that app. Seriously. Super Serious. No probs. What? It crashes? No it doesn't. Don't lie. I'm iTunes. What? Yeah, I'll install that app. Okay. Done. No. Serious. Cereal. Super Cereal. Done. It's in there. Ha, no just kidding. I installed that old one again. Here. Try again. I swear I'll install it. jk."

Anyway, you struggling iPhone developers who've found my boring blog with Google... I wish good luck to all of you. If your users haven't given up yet have 'em download the iPhone Configuration Utility from Apple. Or I hear it's nice developing for Android.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Gmail is down?

Gmail is down so I'm reading my email with the webmail browser for my site. It's not-so-good. Also, apparently GMail filters out the spam that normally gets delivered to me but now I'm stuck reading it. Today's spam highlight:

Hey We have hijacked your baby but you must pay once to us $50 000. The details we will send later... We has attached photo of your fume

"We has attached photo of your fume?" WTF is that? I know whoever wrote this doesn't speak English as a first or second language. But still. "Fume?" Weird. If I translate it back and forth with an online translation site I get this:

We there are attached photo of your smokes.

This is pretty fantastic and makes more sense. Of course if you've hijacked* my baby I'm definitely going to want a smoke. It's almost ensured once I see that picture of my very own smokes. I bet this is a ploy from the cigarette companies to get me to smoke. I'm too scared to open the attachment so we'll never know. Stupid cigarette companies.

* Not "Kidnapped," but "Hijacked." What are they gonna do, like fly my baby somewhere? If my baby flew I wouldn't be wasting time on the internet. I'd be making millions from Eric's All-New Flying Baby Cirque Du Soleil. "Come for the flying baby, stay for the weird clowns"

Friday, August 21, 2009

New Cell Phone

My Palm OS Treo 680 is failing. The case is cracked, there's dust behind the screen and it has lost its mind. Sometimes it just doesn't respond or takes a minute before doing anything. Sometimes it doesn't want to talk to T-Mobile any more. Also. It's a little shaky on letting me send text messages. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can't. Weird. I used this Treo a LOT though. Every day for years. When I was working in San Francisco and commuting on CalTrain I used it for dial-up networking for my MacBook Pro. It's seen a lot of use. Still, it sucks that it's broken or breaking. It's a mess.

Now that I'm going to be so rich (see previous post) I bought a used iPhone 2g. I need a new phone and I'll use it for development too. I just unlocked it and it took a little under one hour. So now I have an iPhone 2g that works with my T-Mobile plan. Nice.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Highly paid expert consultant!

I got some email from someone at DeMatteo Monness a month ago. They're a "a boutique primary research firm and full service broker-dealer serving the institutional investment fund community." They were looking for someone with expertise in the things I know about (board games and porn?*).

I spent 20 minutes with my initial contact there talking about my experience, what I know about the things they were interested in etc. At that point I thought "Wait a minute, I'm not being paid and I want to get back to work!" So I interrupted the conversation to let the interviewer know I needed to get back to work, and to ask "How much will this pay?" As it turns out they pay $300/hour. I quit griping and said "No problem!"

The first call fell through because I didn't have the specific company experience that their client wanted. D'oh. Another of their clients was interested in talking to me. I joked with Kelly and our friend Alan about how I'd speak really slowly and make crazy references to drag the call out (more money!). "Okay, are you guys familiar with the show Seinfeld? Do you remember there was the tall guy and he would suddenly burst into Jerry's apartment? What was his name?" "Yeah, that was Kramer." "No, that's not it. The guy with the crazy hair." "His name is Kramer." "Was it Carl?" You get the idea.

Even with my excellent money-making plan ready-to-go I ended up skipping that and answering their questions. I didn't even mention Seinfeld once. Anyway, it was fun and went well. Although since I knew someone was paying $300/hour that caused me to speak really quickly without realizing it until later. I didn't want them to waste their money! Ha.

* What!? No, more like mobile apps and casual games. And porn. I'll be here all week folks. Thank you, and good night!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Kodak Zi6 (low-end) HD camcorder

Our old camcorder stopped auto-focusing. And it doesn't have manual focus. It's kind of "Random Focus" now. Theoretically we could run around and change the distance to what we're recording to put things in focus (or yell to the kids "Run, fast, closer!"). But then it would react to that and refocus on something random ("No, stop, okay go way back! Go go!"). Kind of a Schrödinger's cat deal. Well, I'm not sure that's true. But still, that's a good Wikipedia page.

Anyway, even though we're not really buying anything, ever again (. I bought a refurbished Kodak Zi6. It's pink. I'm going to say it's Kelly's. Besides, I'm red/green color-blind and it doesn't look pink to me. Ha. It was $87 with shipping (from on eBay) and has a one year warranty. I also paid $18 (at Amazon) for an 8GB class 6 (which here means "fast") SD card for $18. The camera came with two rechargeable AA batteries and so far works. It saves QuickTime .MOV files to an SD card and it's easy to get them into iPhoto and then iMovie.

The idea is the next time we go visit our families we can videotape us visiting or doing things. That are funny. Or nice. The camera doesn't do so well with motion. I guess that's how it is with < $100 HD camcorders... It does great in sunlight and with things that aren't moving quickly. iMovie '09 has image stabilization so you can process your videos and make 'em look less shaky. I'll see how that goes.

I just checked the firmware version on the camera. And it's an old version. Whoever refurbished this didn't update the firmware. That's okay, 'cause I LOVE updating software. Seriously. It's like you get a better product for free. So I'm updating from 1.01 to 1.11. Wish me luck.

Update The 8GB Class 6 SD card arrived. I took some test video with it and it seems much smoother than what I shot before. I think the 2GB SD card I used from my cell phone was probably fragmented AND slow. So I'm a little more optimistic. With that said... the audio is crappy. It's got a high pitched hiss. I'm going to chat with Kodak online now...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pandora is cool

When I'm working I listen to music with the web site Pandora. You create a free account, pick some songs or artists that you like and it makes music channels based on those. It's a cool way to find bands that you've never heard of or forgotten about.

I kept hearing that they were going to go out of business. Because it costs them money to play all these songs for free. They pay fees to the music industry, but beyond that I'm sure the web traffic costs them a lot too. Anyway, I'm bad. I never click their ads... I'm not interested. But I like the music a lot.

I just got email from them saying I'm in the top 10% of users at Pandora. Not like the top 10% bestest customers they love, but the top 10% in usage. As in "Hey, quit using Pandora so much or else start clicking our ads, layabout!" The email explained if I listen to more than 40 hours of music in a month I'll be asked to pay $1 for that month*. Otherwise it's all good times. We'll see when I hit 40 hours... The other option is to pay $36/year for unlimited music + higher quality streams.

* Surprisingly reasonable. Plus it's not a recurring thing. It's a one-off charge each time it happens and you approve it. It seems so reasonable I wonder if they're being super cautious about scaring away users.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Patchin' the pool, and lemon sorbet

We bought a citrus juicer, like this one. I think exactly this one. It looks like the Alien from the movie Alien... Or maybe like ET. It gets bad reviews on Amazon, but we paid $1 for it from a neighbor. It's been awesome for juicing lots of lemons. And since lemons are falling off our tree like rain it's helping a lot. We're drinking a lot of lemonade and eating lemon sorbet* between all meal courses.

Our neighbor, Alan, and his two kids stopped by yesterday. I mentioned to him that our pool has a leak on the top so it won't stay inflated. Subsequently we can't fill it enough to use the filter really. He said it's pretty easy to fix leaks like that and went right into action. He put all the kids to work with soapy water and sponges. I should have taken pictures. The kids were awesome although sometimes had to be reminded that the section nearest to the soapy water bucket was already bubbly enough and that they should move on. Anyway, we found three leaks and I patched 'em (This $30 used pool came with everything, including an unused patch kit!). Now it holds air way better. I found one last leak this morning when I filled it up. It was easy because air bubbles were just pouring up through the water.

It's Monday morning in Hong Kong... (but Sunday night in California) That means I'm looking online to see if Andy is around and if he'll be working on some solitaire art today. :) The settings control is ready-to-go and I cleaned up some of the texture loading code so it's much more concise. In the scheme things a customer would never know. But I know the code is a lot cleaner and that's worth something.

* You know, to clear the palate.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Cool art, settings, building a wall

Andy's done a ton more fantastic art for my iPhone Solitaire game. The game is starting to look really good. It's been cool working with Andy. He's in Hong Kong so we end up talking when it's morning there and dinner-time here in California. The coolest thing is I wake up in the morning and there's new art! Nice.

I'm working on the Settings screen now. It's all custom-drawn in Open GL instead of using the normal iPhone OS stuff. I normally like to use the built-in user interface features of the OS, especially with Macs, but I think our screens are going to look better and all feel like they fit together much better this way.

In other news... Cousin Dan and I started filling in an arch in the living room here. Well, mostly Dan. I'm the assistant. I'll post pictures soon.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Solitaire, lemons, pool

1) Kelly bought an inflatable (but kind of hard-core) pool for $30 used (it turns out it was $150 new + all the chemicals and more came with it). We set it up in the back yard. I thought it was an "8 foot" pool. But it's 13 feet. It's kind of huge considering our small back yard. Anyway, it's fun. I get to do all the cool stuff my dad did with our pool when I was growing up. Like use the cool water tester thing and put the drops in and shake it. And add chlorine. And yell at the kids to keep the chickens out of the pool*.

2) We have a lemon tree. We don't take care of it, really at all. It makes a million lemons all year long. I don't think it ever stops. Anyway, today I used up like 30 lemons and made a huge pitcher or lemonade (including simple syrup 'cause we're kind of fancy here about our lemonade) and also made lemon sorbet which is in the freezin' machine now.

3) Andy Fitzsimon started working on artwork for my iPhone solitaire game. He's already made some great art and has had a bunch of good ideas for the game. I swear we are going to beat the pants off the other solitaire games on the iPhone. Heck, maybe we'll beat the pants off of a bunch of other non-solitaire games. I have no idea if we'll make money though... Anyway, it's already looking better and the sounds from Michael at Magnetron Audio are great. I just paid $0.99 for Astraware Solitaire and it's not very good at all. They have like 400 other games and my guess is they're too busy with everything else or were in a rush to ship this game. It doesn't run in landscape mode, the frame rate seems slow, the graphics don't seem up to their standards.

* Okay, we didn't have chickens when I was kid. But we had a lot of apple trees. Also. No one even let the chickens near the pool here, but it's a funny idea.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Board Games With Scott

  1. I'm a big board game geek
  2. I don't like boring American games like Sorry, Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit or Candy Land... I like designer/Euro games that are really good. Like Ticket to Ride, Diamant and For Sale.
  3. Since I'm a board game geek I like to learn about board games.
  4. I like Scott Nicholson's Board Games with Scott
. Check it out. Scott's really funny, plus you'll learn about some cool games. Also. He's a librarian!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Kindle, Pizza and Solitaire

Kelly's Kindle 2

Kelly's Kindle 2 (e-Book from Amazon) is broken. Well, the screen is broken. The upper-right corner looks all jumbled and there are some stray vertical and horizontal white lines too. I accused her like 7 times of dropping it or doing something bad. But she denied any wrong-doing. I googled around and the same thing has happened to other Kindle owners. I wonder if the screen is fragile or if it might be some other issue.

Amazon support wrote me back quickly and gave me a number to call. I called and the guy was very nice and they're sending out a replacement Kindle tomorrow. I wonder now if there was a defect in it, if it's really delicate, if a kid juggled it or what. And I wonder if the new one will have the same problem.

Save/Restore undo history in Solitaire (aka "Boring")

I'm adding "Undo" save and restore to Solitaire for the iPhone. So it'll remember your moves when you quit and resume later. It ought to be easy since it already worked for Palm OS...

Pizza Hut Coupons?

We just got a sheet of Pizza Hut coupons at our door. I don't like Pizza Hut, but I looked at these and I'm going. And we've even been making our own pizzas from scratch. Although they're only so-so. They'd be good except that the weird (tiny) European oven we have only goes up to 450 degrees. And there's only a top burner. So no crispy crust for us. Stupid oven.

The first coupon is $3 for a medium 1 topping pizza. That's like free. I mean, they don't make money on that do they? I thought that was so cheap that at first I didn't notice the next coupon. Now that I've studied it, it's my favorite coupon of all time:

Any Pizza
Any Size
Up to 3 Toppings or Specialty

So what they're saying here is "OMG The economy is really bad. We really want you to start coming to our shop or we're going out of business. Here's the deal: You buy ANY pizza, small, extra large, large with a hole in the middle, whatever you want. We don't care. We'll put anything on it. ANYTHING. You want another pizza on it? No prob. You want a Tower of Hanoi pizza with 7 pizzas each a different diameter? It's in the oven now. You want to bring your so-so pizza from home and have us wrap it up with one of ours and then deep fry it? Done. Whatever you want, okay? $10. Please. Please, just come to our store. Look, we'll send someone over -- you show them the $10 and they'll pull you to the store in a wagon. $10. Any pizza, and you get a free wagon ride. Okay?"

Monday, June 22, 2009

My Favorite iPhone Games

I've tried a lot of iPhone games. Here are my two favorites.

The Creeps!

There are lots of Tower Defense games for the iPhone. This is my favorite. Cartoony monsters try to wake up the sleeping kid. You have to stop them. There's no scrolling or zooming, everything is on-screen. There are multiple modes and lots of levels for each that offer a good variety of game play. The best game design element is that the player doesn't just have to stop the bad guys to do well, they also have to clear out the trees/rocks/shells/whatever from the field. So there's always a choice during the game whether you should focus on shooting the bad guys or clear out some space for money and to make room for more defense weapons. The graphics and sound could be better but they're good. It's $0.99 and you should buy it.


Peggle's a great game on desktop machines and they've ported the same game to the iPhone and did a great job. It's like super fancy pachinko. It has so many rewarding particle effects and random rewards that you'll want to keep playing and you'll be sure you're getting really good at it. I'm not convinced a player's skill at the game makes much difference... but it's still really fun. It's $5 as I write this, but it was on sale for $0.99 recently.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Eric's iPhone Solitaire and more

The casual game I was working on at PlayFirst, DinerTown Tycoon, finally shipped! I finished fixing bugs early and moved onto the web version of the game. Unfortunately I was done with the web game super early (normally that's good), but then it was canceled. I'm bummed they didn't cancel it before I did the work. It's sad to see your work thrown out. Then I helped out on the SDK and with other projects and when there wasn't more to do they laid me off. What does this mean for you, the consumer? Ha. It means I'm finishing Solitaire for the iPhone which, once I line up an artist, will whoop the pants off of the competition. I'm also looking for a job or contract with a company that's got good management, makes cool consumer stuff, and cares about making things good so the employees can be proud of them.

I found a great audio guy for Solitaire but I'm still looking for an artist.

So far I'm 0 for 9 on artists. They're either too busy, get hired away to NAMCO, are too far away, are too expensive, or don't understand solitaire. I added an animated Loading screen although the game loads so fast maybe it's a waste. The new iPhones are even faster. It's the right place to show the game's title etc though. A lot of apps just show their title screen with Default.png, the static image that's shown as an app is loading, but before its code is actually running. Apple suggests developers set up that image to look like the first thing a user will see once the app really starts though. The idea is that it'll seem like the application has loaded more quickly, and there won't be a sudden change that surprises the user. Some games put instructions on that static image. It's a mistake though... on a faster device users will never have time to read the info. Also -- it can't be localized (i.e. Translated into another language) since it's just an image and the text is baked into the image.

In other news: We still have five hens and combined they lay 3-4 eggs a day. Some squirrels moved in recently and one figured out how to open the gate to the chicken coop, let all the chickens out, and then go eat their food. What the hell? I thought the stuff I learned from Warner Brothers cartoons was all made up. But clearly those cartoons were based on reality. I'm going to set up an anvil-based squirrel trap next week.

Jonah (and I) finished ~90% of Lego Star Wars for Wii over the past year. It's a fantastically designed game. There are so many great ideas and really good gameplay. I didn't expect it to be 1/10 as good as it is. It's so well designed and they sell it for ~$15. I recommend it to anyone who has a Wii. And if you have a 5+ year-old-kid it's a great game to play together. Plus it's cheap and there's a TON of game play. Plus. It's Star Wars.

Also, we're growing some tomatoes upside down. Cousin Dan dug a hole to put the post in. Ari wanted to get in on the action.

Monday, February 23, 2009


So far it's been a pretty stinky year, 2009. I won't go into the details onacounta who knows who reads this blog. Maybe I should password protect it? Sell subscriptions? Then it wouldn't be weird to cover what's what. Then again, maybe I don't need to. Most anyone who reads this (Hi Dad and Mom!) already know everything crappy that's happened this year.

I've been making progress on solitaire for the iPhone. It's starting to come together. I'm hoping to whoop the pants off all the other solitaire games. Unfortunately that doesn't necessarily translate to sales. My solitaire for Palm came out very well but it was hard to compete with like 90 other solitaire games. It was more of a marketing competition than anything else... and I'm a game developer, not a marketing weasel. Ha, that reminds me once when I worked for Catapult Entertainment long ago (1995?). I was talking with the marketing person and she didn't know I'd worked on Ultimate Solitaire. I think she saw the CD or something and we talked a little about it. Anyway, that was the conversation where I realized we'd sold WAY more copies of Ultimate Solitaire than Catapult had sold of their XBAND modem. It wasn't much later that I quit my job at Catapult and worked on a new improved version of Ultimate with Joe at Delta Tao.

I'm not sure who reads this blog. But if you're interested in helping test out solitaire for the iPhone and you're not some spy for one of the many other giant solitaire corporations... then send me your iPhone/iTouch UDID and maybe I'll set you up with a copy.