Thursday, January 31, 2008

Latest development effort

I've gotten past the first tax hurdle and back to development. I have the edit window all laid out and all the art created and have begun the process of stitching it all together. Based on a new design of the home grown class library I use I had to make a pretty big change to the way the window works. I finished that and have been putting it altogether and getting the editor to work again.

I keep going back and looking at maybe rewriting this in C# or maybe doing something C++ .net with it, but either way it looks like it would be a complete rewrite and I thank that would just take a lot more work and I would rather move on to more projects. Technology is tough to keep up with. When I wrote Memorize-It for Window the first time it was done in cutting edge fashion. Since that time, there have been about 4 different APIs (Application Programmer Interfaces) pushed out by Microsoft and I'm sure if I chose .NET with XAML today it would be obsolete in a year just as if I would have chosen .NET with Forms last year. Memorize-It is actually layered very closely to Win32 which is at the lowest layer for all the other APIs that have come and gone over the years, so I'm happy with that decision even if it does cause some extra work. The good news is I didn't choose MFC a few years after I wrote the first Memorize-It because even though it got a recent update it is looking more and more tired and I'm doubting it will be supported forever. At least with Win32 I know they'll have a lot of problems ever dropping it completely since all their other technologies rely on it.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Tax time

Tax time has distracted me a little from development. I have to get my books in order before the 31st when I have to report sales tax numbers. Since I do all my business online and my vendor or reference is in Minnesota (Digital River) I don't pay any California sales tax so it is an exercise that doesn't make any difference, but it is still a hoop I have to jump through. As I've said before, this doesn't make me much money, I have been doing it for years because it makes a little bit of money, but mostly because I wrote this software for myself and it worked so I decided to share it with others. If you have any ideas on how to improve it, or how to improve sales I would love to hear them.

As I stepped away from development to do taxes I had just finished a new layout for the edit window and had begun to implement it in code.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Creative Capitalism

You have to love Bill Gates for really changing the way he thinks about wealth. He used to be the Sam Walton Family (See: The High Cost Of Low Price to understand how greedy they really are) of the greed chasers and has really turned to making something good with his wealth. If you purchase Memorize-It, I promise not to hook you into some sort of revolving money machine to keep taking your money. I have always been about creating software that I sell at a reasonable price and use any profit to make new products and services that are also sold at a reasonable price (If only it were that easy and I could actually afford to quit my day job and make more products). I also have always given a lot of my time and money to various charities and that will always continue. Especially the work I have done in Santa Ana and Africa and we have been looking at doing some work in Watts and Mexico.

Anyway, I really like what Bill said, "The self-interest behind capitalism had driven multiple innovations but to harness it to the benefit of all required the system be refined. Greater focus on recognition for improving the lives of others could provide a spur for companies to focus more on making money out of providing valuable products at affordable prices to the world's poor."

Impressive from one of the biggest (past) abusers of the capitalist system in the last century.

Don't pay extra for extended downloads

There has been a trend lately in the software download industry to try and up-sell customers with an extended download service. This is the scam. You pay an extra $5-10 dollars when you purchase and then you can have your serial numbers resent to you later if you have a hard disk crash or something. I've seen a number of e-mails praising how well this works to increase revenue. To me it just seems like robbery or taking advantage of people. If you purchase Memorize-It and lose your serial number, send us an e-mail. We keep records (like everyone else) and it is pretty simple to look up and send you the serial number.

As for the download, you can always download Memorize-It from right here:, including older versions in case you can't afford the $10 for an upgrade.

Extended download, just say no.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Windows Vista Compatibility

I've been getting a number of questions on Windows Vista compatibility. Yes, Memorize-It 4.0 works with Windows Vista. I have tested it and have also been developing the latest version using Windows Vista.

As for Windows Vista itself, I have a number of complaints, but overall it looks nice and seems to mostly work. Most of the problems I have had have been minor annoyances in the user interface. Especially in the constant popups that warn you when ever you seem to push a button that has anything to do with accessing the network or changing some application.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

What's in the new version so far

Since I've announced that there is a new version in the works and has been in the works for a few years now, I'm sure there will be questions about the new features. Also, before you decide to hold off on your purchase I have given a FREE upgrade to anyone that has purchased in the 6 months previous to every other release. Also, upgrades are always only $10.

The biggest change that I'm the most excited about is the ability to use multi-byte Unicode fonts. It was actually the one feature that I get asked about most over the years. It was a tough change and touched nearly every file in the program. It took me a few months, but I'm really glad I finally got it done. This means that Memorize-It will finally work with Asian and Arabic fonts which is one of the biggest items on my list of features to add.

I've also redone the user interface and all the graphical elements in the application. The multi-file browse window was the biggest change since I keep getting requests to license Memorize-It, but have not really had a great way for people to show their cards outside the Memorize-It application. Hopefully this new system will lead to a better system for others to share their flashcards. Also I'm planning making better bundles of the flashcards we already have available.

Jpeg and Gif image importing. I've looked a little at PNG, but I don't think it will make it into this release.

A new card style. Random multiple choice will move the answer between A-E instead of the current way where the correct answer is fixed in a specific location.

ToolTips were added. It may seem like a simple thing, but Memorize-It is written on a home-grown application framework I call BareBones. This was written before MFC which has since become the most popular application framework for Windows. In general, I like BareBones because it doesn't have any overhead. It does the basics. The problem with this is when new technologies come along I have extra work to do to add them to my framework. In this case it was a few weeks work, but this will make the application easier to use because the buttons will now pop up a little tip on what they do when the mouse hovers over them.

I'm now starting work on the edit window, then the list window and after that there are probably another million tasks, but I am committed to getting this done. I have some ideas to add on card sizing that will help in one of the problem areas people have had and that is full screen editing and quizzing. I'm going to allow full window size editing of cards, but I am also going to have 4 fixed sizes for 3x5, 4x6 and 5x7 cards which will force the size of the card no matter what the window size is. This typically causes a lot of problems with printing and will be nice to finally have a better system for people that like to maximize the edit window.

The list continues, but I think that is enough to give you a taste of what is coming in the new version.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Behind the scenes

For the past few years I've been working on a new version of Memorize-It. Before you decide to hold off on your purchase I have given a FREE upgrade to anyone that has purchased in the 6 months previous to every release. Also, upgrades are always only $10. One of my biggest disappointments with the software industry is the cost of maintenance and yearly updates. It really gets my blood boiling: the yearly cost, the upgrades that are nearly the same price as the original and the crazy schemes that companies come up with the take advantage of you. I never started this venture to make a ton of money. I have a regular job and did this on the side for my own benefit and decided to release it as a product after a few years of refinement. Mostly just to share what I've done with others. Anyway, here is a screenshot of the latest quiz win.

I still have a lot more work to go, but it has been a consistent bit of progress forward for the past six months. Probably a lot longer to go, but I'm excited to finally get this done and have been putting much of my extra time on getting there.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Changing Analytics

I've changed my analytics engine I use to google. I originally paid for the Web Side Story site and they quietly went "free" when google analytics came out, but I decided to try the Google Analytics out on (yet) another blog I created, which I'll probably mention at some point. The Google Analytics seemed easier to configure and change so I decided to move all my analytics. I still don't get all the information I want out of it, like knowing when a click leads to a sale, but I'm working on it. Now if I can just get my commerce provider to come around and allow me to do this I will be very happy. I'm not holding my breath since it seems like people have been asking the RegNow folks about this for years now.