Friday, March 29, 2013

I love Google, but killing Reader was a lost opportunity

I know I'm kinda late on the "Why did Google kill Reader" bandwagon, but it really bothers me.

First off, I know it's probably expensive to run the Reader servers, I get that. I also know that Google isn't getting money off of me through advertisements on Reader because there are none. BUT! Google could definitely find a way to earn money.

First, lets take a look at my time spent on reader.
Wow, in 30 days I read over 10 thousand items. Lets do some math, assuming I spend 10 seconds looking at each item: 10000 items * 10 seconds an item, divide seconds by 60 to get minutes, minutes by 60 to get hours, and it comes out to 27.77 hours in a month. That's more than a day every month, and almost an hour a day. I can tell you, even as a very heavy internet user, that my time spent on all the other Google services combined (Search, Gmail, Calendar, Tasks, Maps, etc) rarely reaches an hour a day. How is it that Google has my eyes for an hour a day and they couldn't find a way to monetize it? That's preposterous! They try so hard on Search, why not on Reader?

Here's the simple solution: Either insert ads into the RSS feeds themselves, or close the service off and make everyone use the official Google Reader client on Android and iOS and have ads show up there. Simple.

Also, just for fun: Here's how I use the star feature. I set up to find the newly starred items and download them into my Dropbox. This way, any time I come across an amusing image in my feeds, I simple press 's' and the image shows up in my Dropbox. Later, when I'm with friends, I sometimes open up that folder and we have a fun time looking at them. It's great.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Update on my career and my apps

What's happening in my life:

I am now close to graduating with my Bachelors degree, with only a couple more months to go. I've been pretty lax into looking for a job after graduating because I had a desire to continue on with a Masters degree, and luckily I was admitted into the Masters degree program here at BYU. Now that summer is approaching, I've started to think about getting another summer internship job, so that is my next goal. I'm still undecided as to where I should apply...but I'll figure it out.

Programming challenges:

Recently I took on the challenge from a user of my Jumbles Solver app to make the app less error prone by adding in the functionality to cancel a solve action. It turned out to be more effort than I expected. One issue that I ran into that I was unable to solve completely was that while my app is solving for the words, it uses so much memory that Android has to keep freeing up memory for my app, but is unable to deliver enough memory to my app. I've added some warning dialogues in these cases to warn those with lower end Android devices. It's not a perfect solution, but really this sort of thing only happens when solving for, say, 20 input letters with a minimum word size of 3. All in all, I'm happy that the app is more robust and less error prone.


This and last semester have been a time of growth for me in the field of computer graphics and CG animation. Working on the senior film and other animation classes this and last semester, I have had many opportunities to learn new programs and languages. I learned how to interface with Maya through sockets and how to customize Maya with custom shelves and tools that I made, I learned a little Nuke for compositing,  I learned many more Photoshop tips and functions, and I learned a bunch of Houdini skills, such as shader programming using nodes, doing fluid simulations, and doing physics simulations.

Programming Classes:

Last semester I took Interface Systems and Creating Software Ventures, a class on being a software entrepreneur. Learning about user interfaces and creating my own widgets was a real eye opener into understanding software architecture. Learning about being an entrepreneur and working with a group of students to develop a product idea with the goal to present to investors was a great experience as well. It really taught me that a good idea is not enough, you really need to develop and research the idea and make it economically viable for it to be any good.

This semester I am taking two classes, Digital Signal Processing and Computer Networking. Signal Processing is pretty amazing, the applications of the Fourier transform and other signal processing techniques are very vast and are really cool to think about. My Computer Networking class took what I knew about how the internet and networks worked and has taken it to a whole new level. It's amazing knowing at practically the electron level how information gets from one computer to another over the internet. Implementing UDP and TCP protocols seem simple, but there are a lot interesting caveats. 

Well, that's my life for now. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

New App: Boggle Solver, and other news.

Boggle Solver in action!

Boggle Solver:

The other day I realized that I had not done much Android development recently, so I decided to make another app. Luckily, I found my code from a Freshman year project that solved Boggle. I noticed that there was only one other Boggle app on the Market, and it lacked the ability to solve for 5x5 Boggle boards, and was a little tedious to use, so I made my own: Boggle Solver.

To use Boggle Solver, input either 9, 16, or 25 characters and click solve. A list of word solutions will appear, and when you click on a word, it is highlighted on the shown board for easy reference.

All in all, this project was fairly simple. I was able to reuse tons of code and I didn't really have to learn much to do it. Download today!

Internship Complete:

I finished my internship over at Fishbowl a couple weeks ago. It was a great summer and I really learned a lot from working on such a huge piece of software. Half of my time was spent developing Surfboard for Pipeline, an iPad and iPhone app that syncs contacts to and from Pipeline, Fishbowls online CRM service. Learning to code in Objective-C was interesting, and sometimes frustrating. The other half of my internship was spent improving and fixing our main product. Learning the ins and outs of a million lines of code is really quite a task!  My internship culminated in me pressing the button that would release our latest version of the product, 12.7. It was great, and the people there are wonderful people as well.

Other News:

Other than that, I'm back in school, and am currently signed up for 3 Animation classes. One being the senior film project class. Many amazing animated shorts have been made in years past by the BYU Animation program (numerous Student Emmys and other awards), so I am really excited to be working on the latest film.

That's all for now. I hope to show much more of my endeavors during this school year than I did previously.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

New icons make all the difference

Today I updated Jumble Solver with the feature to switch between popular word lists, including SOWPODS, TWL, 2of12, and a Spanish word list.

Even better, I created a new icon that looks so much better. It's amazing how bad the original looked in comparison.

Here they are:

The old is on top, and the new are on the bottom. The transparent, rounded corners really make it look a lot more professional.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Jumble Solver Updated with Wildcard!

I've updated my android app Jumble Solver after a user commented that it couldn't do wildcard letters, such as a blank tile in Scrabble.

Took a couple hours overall, but it was easy enough to implement. To use, you just put '?' in for the blank tile, and it will solve it. Now my app is even better.

Try it out!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

2 Month update: Goal Reached!

After uploading my app, Jumble Solver, on the Android market, I made a goal to recoup my initial investment of $25 within 2 months. Today is the 2 month mark and I'm happy to say that I made my goal!

First, the ad revenue: In 2 months I've earned $22.16 from around 34 thousand impressions. My click through rate is above 1% and I'm real pleased with that.

The second income comes from selling an ad-free version of the app, which comes to about $5.

Since $22 + $5 is greater than $25, I've hit my goal! I'm real excited, and the future can only get me faster and faster revenue.

Overall, there are currently around 1300 active installs of Jumble Solver.

Amazon also interviewed me, I hope to hear back from them soon.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Giant Scorpion Attack!

Maya Final Project:

Here is my final Maya project. It's a huge scorpion attacking a city. It presumably escaped from a science facility where it was fitted with a laser to replace its stinger.
I had a lot of fun with this final project, and I learned a lot from it as well. Learning new skills is extremely fun. Click for full size.