Paid Apps in the Windows Phone 7 environment

 

salepricingwrong

 

You’re doing it wrong.  This has been an internet meme for a while, and applies directly to the problem with paid apps, in particular, those in the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace.  I’m hoping they don’t continue down this exact path when Windows 8 launches with its embedded app store.

 

The problem isn’t that the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace has a larger ratio of “paid apps” to “free apps” than iTunes or the Android Market – the problems is what those apps are.  I don’t mind paying for apps, good apps in particular.  Use a pro version instead of a lite version, pay for the developer’s time.  Just imagine if they developed that app just for you, would you only feel compelled to give them a $1.99?  No!  It’s worth way more than that! You’re the one getting the bargain, so why not pay?  Particularly, when the app is “worth it.”

 

What makes an App “worth it” is subjective.  Very subjective.  But I can tell you one of the things that, I feel, is not worth it, which is what I’m seeing a lot of in Windows Phone 7.  RSS Feeds.  If I want news from one of my favorite websites, I can go to that website and read it all day long.  As we all know, the overwhelming majority of sites on the internet are not behind pay walls.  This is the reality for content producers, and they’ve been struggling with ways to make money ever since.  With the new ecosystem of Windows Phone 7, came the chance to lay down the corrective law and start turning a profit for the hard work developing apps. But the problem isn’t going to be solved by charging a dollar for your app, which has the same content as your website.

 

True, not every website is optimized for mobile browsing, and an app would be nice.  But let’s be frank, why would you spend a dollar to read something you have been and will continue to read for free?  There needs to be a proven value in your application, that goes above and beyond.  Exclusive articles are hard to sell, people get touchy and will leave your website because they think you’re holding out on them – even though they’re not paying a dime.  Still, perhaps the best solution might be offering some form of exclusive benefit, like industry interviews with people in your field, things that are going above and beyond that typical news articles.  If you can get those interviews.

 

I don’t have the perfect solution, but I do have good news.  From what I’ve seen, again, in particular on the WP7 Marketplace, it looks like a lot of the people trying to charge for what is little more than an RSS feed, are just people trying to make a buck off of others’ hard work.  The developer is usually not affiliated with the actual website at all, and just popped and RSS feed reading app together with the RSS feed of a popular website, and is trying to pass it off as an app.  I imagine many people are not getting suckered and I hope few are being sold, especially in cases like this.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to see developers actually concentrate on making better decisions when they do decide to put their content on a mobile platform.  Ad-Supported apps don’t bother me a bit, but when I do pay for an app, I expect at least something out of it, more than just saving me the time of typing a URL – and the good news is, I think the people managing their own brands and websites know that.

An FTP client for your Android? AndFTP

When I first downloaded AndFTP, I thought it would be a novelty app – giving me the ability to access my FTP servers on the road. How quaint. Now? I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times AndFTP has come to my rescue. It’s a free app, and works amazingly well. There is also a Pro Version which allows easy folder syncing!

Not just that, but I really find that the developer, LYESOFT has a TON of useful apps, including a Samba Share browser, and even a simple File Explorer if you just don’t like using Astro or one of the other “defacto” File System browsers available for the Android. I encourage you to give them a look!

Android Unable to Mount SD Card solved!

This isn’t quite my normal “From the Help Desk” kind of tip for a tech-tip-Tuesday, but I ran in to it last week and thought you might want to know about it.

I recently received an error from my Android, after a reboot, that it was unable to mount my SD Card, and suggested that it may need formatting. Bad sign. I wasn’t about to Format my SD Card and lose everything to “fix” the issue. I would have to reinstall a ton of apps, I would lose photos, music, and other documents on the card… no, I wasn’t going to have any part of this.

I removed and reinserted the card several times, rebooted the phone multiple times: nothing worked. Finally I inserted the card in to my laptop’s SD Card reader, and even then I was greeted with the same error message, that I would need to format the disk. Again, no thanks. So here’s all I had to do:

Before continuing: it is possible that this process will not fix your card, it may be beyond normal repair, but this is just a suggestion that was able to get me back in business. Something is corrupt that is causing this issue, and there may be some applications or data on the card that is corrupted during the “repair” process, you may lose some data in thies proess. Again, although typically minimal if at all, this “fix” can result in data loss. Also, this is likely not a PERMANENT solution for you – the card is probably beginning to go bad and should be replaced as soon as possible.

With the card inserted in to the computer, it should be assigned a drive letter (for example, “E:“). If you’re in the “Computer” (Windows 7) or “My Computer” (Windows XP) screen, you’ll see the drive listed, with a letter, but if you double click on it, it will prompt you to format the sd card. DO NOT format the card.

1) Open a command prompt:
Windows 7: Start > search for CMD > click the program listed as CMD with the little black icon
or
Windows XP: Start > Run > cmd > OK (or enter)

2) In the command prompt that appears type the following (note, in my example, my SD Card was given the drive letter of E: – but replace the E: with whatever letter your card has been assigned in My Computer):
chkdsk E: /f /r
Then press ENTER.

You will see the computer run a checkdisk process on the sd card. It will repair whatever is wrong with the filesystem and you’ll most likely be able to use the card in your phone again. But do not ignore this warning – the card is clearly beginning to fail and you should move important data off of it and REPLACE the card entirely as soon as possible, copying all of your data to a new card!

If you don’t have an SD Card Adapter like the one pictured above, or any other way to connect your SD Card to your computer, I do not know of any way to perform this process while the card is still inside your phone, sorry.

2003 – Adam Green – Friends of Mine


It’s Music Monday! This is a little bit older of an album than I usually suggest to people, but I’m all about helping you find things you probably haven’t heard, but should. Adam Green was co-founder of the band The Moldy Peaches, who’s 2000 self-titled album Moldy Peachesincluded a song entitled Anyone Else But You, which you most likely recall from Juno(2007).

But if you forget how much you hate the movie Juno (after all, remember how you loved it before everyone else loved it, too?), and forget whatever little you might now about The Moldy Peaches, you can go in to this album and truly enjoy it. It’s very much an easy listening album, and it’s what crooners all might have sounded like if they had the guts. The lyrics walk a fine line between poetic genius and babbling idiocy and the best part is, it never matters for a second whether or not it makes sense, because it just sounds so beautiful. There’s a reason this 2003 gem was re-released last year.

Store your 360's saved games in the cloud

Time for our Xbox Tip of the Week! This one is pretty straight forward. With the recent release of the dashboard update for the Xbox 360, Gold subscribers have access to Cloud Storage. The benefit? You can save your game, go to a friend’s house, and load your progress there! No need to remember to bring a Memory Unit, or even a flash drive! It’s a handy little feature, and it seems that many games will natively support it by treating it just like another storage option – but if your game is already saved on your hard drive, how do you move it to the cloud?

Well, you can read all of the details on Xbox.com’s support article, but basically you just need to go to the Settings page, then select Storage, select the hard drive, choose Games, find the game in question, then select on the save game file. The next screen should have a MOVE option – move it up to the Cloud Storage option, and you’re set! Then when you log in on another console, your save game will be available to you. No games lost!

I need to do a little home work and find out if this feature is available for Games for Windows Live – where you’re more likely to format your hard drive and lose your data (and if not, when?).

Making my Toshiba Canvio drive work with the Wii?

I’m going to stray a little from my normal type of gaming post. I do not endorse piracy, and find myself turning over a new leaf since my teenage years. Still, people have lots of different opinions on modding. I may be one of the few who thinks that using something for backup purposes is a legitimate enough reason to void your warranty. With the small collection of games I have for the Wii, the games I do have are fairly hard to come by. I’d like to make sure that, no matter what happens to my disc, I still have access to the game. I know, call me crazy. But seeing as the Wii has little online capabilities that I use, and the firmware hasn’t been updated in over a year at this point, I decided it was time to walk on the dark side and tinker with a little homebrew, along with backing up my games.

I’m not going to get in to the nitty gritty, but there are some helpful video tutorials on YouTube if you want to do it yourself, I won’t provide information on the “hack” itself.

One of the things I saw of on the internet, were questions regarding backed up games and the Toshiba 500gb Canvio usb hard drive, and the Wii. I had my fair share of difficulties with this, myself. The problem seemed mostly related to the fact that the drive ships as formatted as NTFS.

Using Windows to right click on the drive under My Computer, and reformat it as ExFAT with the Allocation Unit Size specifically set to 32-kilobytes seemed to work best. This process does wipe out anything on the drive, so be careful. But once you’re done there, use WBFS Manager to format the drive in WBFS (Wii Backup File System) (doing this takes seconds), then you can use your Toshiba Canvio 500GB USB drive without any problems, so long as it is connected to the outermost USB port on the back of the Wii. Use the loader of your choice that you have installed (CFG Loader for me) and select “Install” from the menu to backup your disc to your drive.

Not my usual gaming tip, and no I won’t go in to any details of modding. But I, for one, am glad to have my Metroid Prime Trilogy and Super Mario All-Stars Anniversary Editions safely tucked away for a cold winter’s day.

UPDATE: A quick note: if you first load your launcher program and it doesn’t detect the drive, unplug and replug the USB drive – it should load after a few seconds. Sometimes I have to do this twice. I have had some problems with certain games not working, once I had time to play my backed up version. Luckily I still have my discs. But the majority of games are working just fine, so far.

ESRB Game Rating Search App

App Wednesdays call for highlighting an App for your mobile device. This week is a short post, not much to review, but it goes along with one of my final posts for my previous website, WinBreak.com. The post was for parents, regarding parental controls on consoles. In my previous blog post, A Parents’ Guide to Gaming, we discussed game ratings and how important it is to take them seriously.

It’s important to remember that the The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is an entity which is responsible only unto itself for rating games: it is not government run, and has existed for nearly two decades. It has done what many consider to be an impecible job of creating a rating system, but really getting the entire games industry to voluntarily take part in it. This gives the ESRB real power, and the ratings should be given serious weight.

But what if you haven’t been much of a gamer yourself, but you’re with someone (your own child, a neice or nephew) who is begging you for that new game. You’re in the store, it could be an impulse by, but should you? Well, now there’s an easy way to decide if the game is right for the child’s age group:

The ESRB has an app. Get it. And use it.
Android
Windows Phone 7
iPod Touch / iPhone / iPad

Internet Explorer keeps crashing on Microsoft Websites

Whether I try to use Bing.com, Xbox.com, or several other legitimate websites, I keep having problems with Internet Explorer crashing out. I’m sure I have my Windows Updates, so what is going on?

I had this problem on my work computer just a few months ago. And even though I was certain I had my updates, and had even went from IE8 to IE9 trying to resolve the issue, I still had problems with my browser crashing on many of Microsoft’s own websites. Why? Simple.

I was missing Silverlight. Trust me, I genuinely thought I already had it installed, but until I went to the Silverlight website and installed it, my problems continued. Silverlight was and is Microsoft’s tool to compete with Flash. HTML5 really seems to be taking over, and will continue to grow as the HTML standard improves. Upgrading to Internet Explorer 9 seemed to resolve my issues with Bing, but I still couldn’t use Xbox.com to save my life. I realized that despite my having been through the Windows Update process about a million times, I had missed something and simply needed to install Silverlight. A few short seconds later and all of my brower crashing problems were solved!

Why didn’t you have the problem all the time? Also an easy answer: Silverlight isn’t as ubiquitous as flash – so I only really noticed a problem on sites that used it the most. Where would you find those? Microsoft’s own sites, of course! Installing the Silverlight plugin resolved my issues, and I hope it fixes yours!