Can you tell it was a Disney event? heh.
Well, I’m back from PoohCamp, which was fantastic. I can’t write much about it here since it’s very work related and I try (these days at least) to keep that pretty separate from my blog. I did take some pictures (iPhone, so they’re not *amazing*) that were pretty interesting. The event was hosted at the Golden Oak Ranch, which was the site for the movie Pete’s Dragon, The Apple Dumpling Gang, as well as being Walt Disney’s retreat from the city before it was ever a production studio set. It’s a lovely area set in the canyons near Santa Clarita (which I now think of as a freaky pod-person town – it just didn’t seem real).
I’ve been quiet on the blog for the past few weeks, but inordinately busy at the same time. My nephew (Sam) just left after visiting here for a couple of weeks – and since then it’s been a ‘get the house back in order…” sort of week preparing for a bit more travel. I’m heading to North Hollywood, CA the end of this week and the prep for that has been actually pretty big. I get back, we’ve got a week here in town, and then we’re heading down to Oregon for Labor Day weekend, after which Karen heads off to her alma mater (Grinnell College) for a speaking engagement. Busy busy busy.
Some time in all of this, I’ve been getting progress made on the Seattle Bus updates, but it’s slow going right now. I haven’t even knocked out my “get the data from Apple” script that I’ve been meaning to do.
I imagine that sounds like a very strange statement, but it’s one that has been occurring to me more frequently lately. Apple was fairly slow off the gate to provide any sales/trend information about how my application was doing, and it was frustrating as hell. I would get the periodic “support” email from someone who had clearly purchased the application, but I had no idea who I was selling to let alone how much…
I’m very glad that Apple has put together a sales trends setup for iPhone developers deploying their applications. Not surprisingly, I wish it was a little better – in particular, I’d love to have an API where I could get that data programmatically. I’m more than happy to store it and do whatever additional analytics I like – but right now getting it out of the system is a very manual process. I think I’m going to set aside some time to knock out a script with twill or mechanize that will do this work for me and automate it.
I suppose in a sense, it does not matter “who” for any individual customer. But frankly, that bugs the crap out of me! I’m a big believer in the potential power and influence of the individual, so knowing my “customer” is a philosophical imperative. When I look across the road at my Mac developer compatriots who know with fair detail who their customers are. It’s an aspect of working through the iTunes AppStore that I never considered, and now find frustrating.
I would love to be able to contact my customers. I’d like to send an email to everyone who’s purchased my application, let them know about updates that are available and proactively ask for feedback. Craig Hockenberry talked to this a bit in his blog post Listeners found this review helpful. The closest the AppStore provides are the reviews – very much a one-way street. In a very sense, I feel I’m barred from communicating with them outside of the application that I produce. I could put something in the application description on the store itself “Would like feedback, please email me” but that seems rather lame and very impersonal. Likewise I don’t want to bind in a “feedback” link in the application itself – getting me feedback is not something I think the application should be focused on. I’m very certain that I want the application to be laser-focused on it’s particular task. I don’t want to trip that up with extraneous bells and whistles, and a “feedback” link seems like exactly that.
I’m incredibly grateful for folks who have written into my “support” email address to date. I’ve received some great feedback and been able to help a number of folks. I wish and hope that Apple will come up with something to solve this frustration of mine, but frankly I kind of doubt it. I think some (someone) within Apple perceives it’s in Apple’s best interests to “own the relationship” with the customer. They do at least pass along a link to our websites and an email address, but I don’t expect that to change. I fully expect we (iPhone developers) will continue to be at “arms length” from our customers.
According to a handy-dandy flight tracker (with ads, of course), Karen and Sam have just passed Sioux Falls, South Dakota as I write this. Sam’s coming out to visit for the next two weeks – the first alone with us (HAHAHAHA!) and then his Dad is coming out to join us for another week. I’m looking forward to seeing Sam quite a bit – and looking forward to when more of the kids can come out to “visit” some time in the future. No plans there yet, just sort of an abstract “that would be neat!” sort of thing. Of Course, maybe this week will cure me of that idea… I kind of doubt it though.
We’ve got all sorts of plans – or more appropriately I should say Karen has all sorts of plans for Sam (and Dan) while they’re out here. I’m not entirely an innocent bystander, but I’m not into the planning thing as much – I’d be just as happy with randomly dragging them off into directions unknown and seeing what we can find and see. I think we’ve got at least one long weekend in the works with a trip over to the Peninsula.
Last time we took Sam over that way, he ended up dropping his butt into the 50 degree surf at Dungeness Bay (yeah, same place where they get those crabs). I recall that he learned that drying saltwater itches terribly and that he didn’t seem terribly phased by the fact that 50 degree saltwater is damn cold. Of course we didn’t think to have a change of clothes on hand for him… so we also learned where the nearest Walmart was in that area. Take that as a starter, see what you think he’ll end up learning this time.
For the week that he’s here without Dan, Karen’s enrolled him in ZooCamp. It’s a day camp up at Woodland Park Zoo and the course is titled “Animal Olympians”. Hopefully it’s the kind of thing that Sam will really enjoy. Anyway, I expect that’ll keep him at least somewhat busy during the day while I’m at work. Well, I’m off to play a video game with some significant violence in it for a while now – it’ll likely be a while before I can do that again…
I knew about iPhoneDevCamp – one in Denver and one in Frisco – but I didn’t know that Seattle had one too – at least until this evening. I’m afraid I’ve already got quite a bit of time commitments this weekend, or I’d be going myself.
It’s being held this weekend at the Fremont Adobe Offices, kicking off at 9am and going pretty much all day both Saturday and Sunday. There’s a proposed schedule on their wiki, and although the Seattle attendee list doesn’t look too long I suspect it would be fun to go check out and hack around in.