Mike Goes Down Under

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Last May I took off on a journey of a life time to the Americas. In 8.5 months I visited 16 countries. Along the way I had the good fortune of meeting a special lady. We travelled together for 5 months, virtually every second of every single day was spent together.

So I was surprised when she invited me to come live with her in Australia. She must be mad I thought to myself. Still, I had better go over there and find out if she has actually lost it.

Well guess its fortunate that Australia is the top of my "to visit" list. So I thought to myself what better way to check out this huge continent than with a beautiful, smart and funny lady who I guess is partly insane too.

As for what ill be working on while im over there, I have some freelance work lined up but my real passion is games so I plan on working on an indie game or two while im out there. Thats until the remaining of my saving last and I have to get a job or more likely she finally gets fed up of me and sends me back to England!

Post To Tumblr v.4

While I was travelling I have had a great many people contact me about my popular chrome extension Post To Tumblr. Some wanted me to fix things some wanted me to add things others wanted to buy the extension outright.

Well I didn’t have time to do any of those things while I was away so put it off until I returned home. Well I have been back now for a few weeks and have decided to spend quite a bit of time upgrading the extension.

Unfortunately my time isnt free now that I am working freelance and so I need to justify the time spent working on the extension. So I need a way to monetize the app. There are quite a few ways to do it and I couldn’t decide which to go for so I surveyed my users.

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The results were interesting:

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If you take the results on face value it looks as if people didnt mind ad injection but I suspect that they misunderstood the meaning of what ad injection was and thought I just meant adverts. I decided that ad injection was a little too evil for me and decided to go with making the donation more prominent.

To do this I rewrote the entire app using Typescript with KnockoutJS and then make the donations front and center. When a user opens the window they are presented with a popup that informs them about all the new features and improvements and gives them an opportunity to donate:

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From there they are taken to the donate tab of the options that lets them quickly and easily donate.

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I decided to set the minimum donation amount to $3 which is about the price of a cup of tea in Starbucks.

As an incentive I have locked certain features such as the advanced 1-click process and a suggestion submission feature:

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I also have promised new features coming soon which donors will have access to:

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On the whole people have responded well to the changes however there have unfortunately been some negative reviews from people on the chrome web store.

The negative reviews regarding me asking for donations sadden me. I don’t think people understand that I need to justify my time spent on the extension. When Tumblr change their API I have to spend days working out why. This is time I could be spending doing freelance work.

The amount I ask for is about what you would pay for a mobile app and people don’t seem to complain when purchasing those. Unfortunately this just seems to be the way things are on the Chrome Web Store, people expect things to be free.

I have tried hard not to be evil with this release, I could have made much more money by either implementing ad injection or selling to an ad injection company, instead I have worked hard to fix and improve things in a clean and non intrusive way. I just wish I could make the negative reviewers understand that.

New Hosting, New Theme!

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In what appears to be an almost annual event I have decided to move hosting of my blog yet again! Im moving away from the £35 per month hosting of 1&1 because although I like the freedom of having my own box that I can remote into i’m just finding it too expensive for me to justify having it. There are so many Platform as a Service (PaaS) options out there that provide high quality hosting cheaply I thought I would switch over.

Last year Google announced that you can now host WordPress blogs on Google App Engine so I decided to take the plunge and set it up. It turns out that its not actually that hard. The hard part came with the fact that this blog is 10 years old now and contains 426 posts. That means a huge database that is not easy to import into a new provider. Fortunately this post came to my rescue, in the end it only cost me $0.88 in instance backend time to import the whole thing.

So now I have my blog hosted on Google App Engine, I moved all my content over to Google Cloud Storage too so its all hosted on Google’s Edge CDN network for super fast access, nice! I am currently running in the free tier for everything except for the Cloud SQL server which WordPress unfortunately needs so that means i’m paying $11 per month for that. Not bad considering that it used to cost me on 1&1 and I get all the nice Google features such as backups, redundancy and infinite scaling.

At the same time I thought I would tart the site up a little and bought a new theme. This time I went for a theme called Feather from Suitstheme which I rather like! Let me know what you think in the comments.