Software

When I was young, probably too young for such aspirations, I wanted to grow up and write software. I still want to write software, and it turns out that’s what I do for a living. I have trouble wanting to write “apps” though. Somehow they’re just too “hip to the scene”. Something just inherently seems less professional about calling software an app. App is just short for application, which I think is even nerdier sounding than “software.” But alas, that word fell victim to what I will henceforth call “English rot” – vowels, syllables, whole words are rotting away until only a handful of consonants and maybe a few numerals will remain.

It’s weird having lived through both sides of computing skills being necessary and socially embraced. When I was young you were a nerd for being able to use a pc, now it seems to be going full circle. Tablets and smartphones are not computers, they are appliances that have computers in them. The computer portion of these devices is buried beneath the glossy touchscreens and one-size-fits-all user interfaces. Sure you can change your backgrounds and colors, but what makes a computer a computer is the freedom to control it however you like. A computer is a canvas that you can paint however you want. These appliances are pre-painted canvases and changing the paint voids your warranty.

As usual I’m rambling like an old man. I’m not afraid of change, I swear!

I’ve put together a few little applications I’m not sure I want to call them apps.  They’re not on phones, so that makes them not apps, right? In case you’re curious, you can feel free to grab a copy of what I’ve made and put out there so far: ColorCoder and Passworder. I’ve got a few concepts in the work that will probably make their way to phones and tablets, computers are obviously on the verge of extinction for the 10th year in a row now. Seriously though, focusing on any one platform today is just not a good idea for future movement.

Making desktop software is what I enjoy creating. I know the medium isn’t the biggest growing market. But there’s functionality capable and expected on desktop and laptop computers that thus far has not been replicated well on tablets or phones. I’m no rocket surgeon, but I’d bet that the vast majority of phone apps are written using real computers. If there’s anyone out there that’s looking for a custom solution for desktop software, business or personal, feel free to send us a message to see if we’re a good fit.

I do have a few more little utilities that I’m planning to shore up soon to share with the world. You can expect a few more freebies in the future, and for everything we’re planning so far there’ll at the very least be a free (and ad-free) version. These are mainly tools that’ll help developers more than anyone else, but I make what I need, and it turns out I’m a developer 🙂

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App Crap

matchthethingsNot so long ago phones were not so smart, and tablets were from star trek. Then a social technological revolution happened. You’d have a hard time finding a phone today that was not a smart phone, bundled with one flavor or another of a walled app selection. With each of the platforms advertising heavily the number of apps available, as we all know the apps make the phone.

The word “free” has all but lost meaning. There’s a lot of variety of what they call free today, very little of it is not for profit. If someone has made money from giving you something for “free”, it just somehow seems less than free. I’m not rallying against companies turning a profit. I’m no moral crusader that’s boycotting apps, I use lots of free apps and services. My issues lie mostly with the sheer quantity of the apps being pushed out there, most of them are labeled as free, and most of them are garbage.

I’m not picking on any specific app stores or brands, every one I’ve used has the same issue. In the rush to beat the competition, the number of apps available was a pivotal marketing point for app stores. Who cares if piles of apps are just non-functional, duplicitous, plagiarized, pay-to-win, or just plain crap. It’s all about the number of apps. This deluge has all but ruined the experience for me. I once looked upon my smartphone screen with wonder and curiosity, and now I look at my smart phone when I need to know what time it is.

RPGcardI scroll these markets far more often than I actually download or purchase anything. Not so long back, the “New” section of the store would actually seem to change. Sure the titles change now, but to me it just seems like the same things over and over again, with very little originality floating to the surface. I want to find something, some treasure that I might have overlooked, but I’ve done the download-and-try dance so many times now, it just doesn’t seem to be worth the effort.

Figuring out what the catch is from the store page isn’t always so easy either.  Do I need DLC? Is it possible to actually win? If so, how much real world money will it take? If I can win a game for free but it will take 1000 years, I’m not sure that actually counts as being able to “win for free.” The popular mantra seems to be to monetize in as many directions as possible.  Apps today that cost money still often contain ads, have additional DLC content to buy, and have special in-app items or features to buy.  And of course there’s the matter of your privacy, which is seldom not profitable in some form or another.

I’m sure I’ll be making and publishing an app or two in the future, so it’s somewhat disheartening to watch how things are going. Even if I make a glorious gem of an app, with novel functionality and use, that is the best app ever…  I’d still need to throw it into the pile of crap and pray that someone will see a glint of it’s shiny.  I still try to look for those that other people have made, but it’s getting harder and harder as the pile grows.

Maybe I should just get a dumb phone, lol.

Video Games and Me

I know of no other medium that is as powerful as interactive video games can be.  A person can fly to the farthest reaches of the universe, throughout the expanses of time, see things that never have and never will exist, based only on the limits of technology and human imagination. All while building thumb and butt callouses and not even standing up.  As with all new media, it’s had a rough start, and rough acceptance in society, but video games have grown into a billion dollar industry.

I started coding when I was 8 years old.  Inspired by the archaic video games of the early 1980’s, playing on an antique computer with a radiation spewing amber-monochrome monitor. It’s been my desire since that time to create games of my own.  Some of my earliest inspirations were games such as Willy the Worm, Space War, Jump Man, and who could forget Lode Runner.  All are quite simple by today’s standards, but once upon a time it was not such a crazy idea for *one* person to be making a game.

I’m not even sure how many times I’ve started working on a game for my own learning and enjoyment.  In my youth I would enjoy making the concepts, basic rules, and game engine bits, but never followed through to complete an *entire* game.  I once created a DOS sprite editor, it even had mouse support.  Not such a trivial thing in the dark ages.  It’s not until adulthood that I’ve come to realize that I was having so much more fun coding than I would have had playing any game I myself made.  To be realistic here, as a child I thought I wanted to build an awesome game because I wanted to play an awesome game, a notion that seems outright silly to me now.

Fast forward to the future, where we’re all living now, the number of video games available is mind boggling.  There’s more video game content being created each year than any one person could possibly complete in their lifetime.  What was once just for us nerds has been thrust into the mainstream.  Movie stars have admitted to playing massively multiplayer online role-playing games.  Even among early video games, role-playing games were shunned as ultra-nerdy.  Television networks devoted to sports are showing video game tournaments, what has this world come to?  Aren’t those guys supposed to be beating up nerds?

There’s a gaming platform in the pocket of most people in the modern world.  I wouldn’t go as far to say that everyone with a phone is a gamer, but I’m not sure I know anyone that doesn’t play a video game now and then.  Jigsaw puzzles, solitaire, and match-3 galore.

Here I am now, an adult by most measures, with a nostalgia based love of video games.  I’m a software developer, but not even remotely in the direction of games.  Every now and then I get an itch to make a game, but the itch never lasts long enough for a completed vision to take form.  Unlike many types of art, video games are not timeless. Technology progresses and old video games die.  Someone building a game is fighting a battle against technological advancement.  If technology  progresses too far, a game that is being made might be left behind before it’s even completed, a potentially disastrous consequence for developers.

spacegame
My most recent prototype, space-game-alpha

When dabbling on my own, I’ve not worked on any of these projects with thought to marketability or even with the thought to sell them.  In that respect I’ve avoided the battle against technology.  In recent years this trend seems to have gone weird, with retro pixel games having a resurgence of sorts.  Games like Shovel Knight and Terraria are showing the world a thing or two about pixels in the modern day. Sandbox games like MineCraft and Creativerse are somehow seeming to bring pixels into 3d and it’s working.

CV_01
Creativese

These recent games are quite inspiring.  Maybe there’s more people out there than I think that want to see what I can make, what WE can make.  As it turns out I’m no artist, I’m a nart. We’ve rolled around a few ideas recently, but have not yet found the one, the one that must be made.  We will find it and it will be awesome, and more importantly it will be fun to make.

Gamesprite
Possible future game sprite

Color Coder Beta

Hi there!  I’m Sarah.  I’m a wife and a mom, and I’m an illustrator who does web design/administration work.

Some time back I wanted something for keeping colors organized for my projects.  My husband, Mike, happens to be a software engineer, so he whipped me up something called syscolors.  It lived in the system tray, and it was a color pallet app, get it?  To use this: in edit mode I could add colors, other than that, I could click on the icon in the system tray, my palette would pop up, and the hex code for the color I clicked on would be in my clipboard.  That’s it.  Oh, and I had to keep the txt file it created on my desktop to keep my palette.  The neat part about that was that if I knew what colors I wanted I could open the text file and just edit my palette and the order of my colors at any time.  I almost never did that, though.  I used this tool for years.  It was in my windows startup stuff to just open if I restarted my computer, because I always got irritated if I was in Photoshop wanting a color and that wasn’t there waiting for me.

It’s neat having a helpful software engineer for a husband.  He’s also written me a password generator, as well as something he did for both of us that would scrub extra spaces from text copied into the clipboard.

Recently, he asked me what other features I might want to add to it if he wanted to update it.  He spend some time clacking away, and then had me check out the new version.  When I told him a list of people I could think of who might like it, we agreed more people might like it.  We’re releasing a beta for this.  If you found us and check it out, please drop us a line letting us know what you thought of it.  Features missing?  Anything not working the way you expect it to?  Please tell us!

What is ColorCoder?

ColorCoder is the solution to managing project color palettes for web developers and graphic designers.

Features include:

  • Organize colors in each palette
  • Manage multiple palettes in project directories
  • Color Grabbing from anywhere on your screen
  • Blend existing colors to create secondary palette colors
  • Random color generator for those moments when you just don’t know where to go next
  • Share palettes to collaborate with coworkers or friends
  • Move palettes to your desired location and lock them
  • Click the palette to copy the color hex to your clipboard, or into your keyboard buffer
  • Easy to bring into your workflow with any of your other programs

I really enjoy using it.  I hope that if it sounds like it might make something easier, that you’ll check it out.  If you think of a feature that would make it more awesome, do let us know.

Go to the download page.