• Finding the best Windows 8 Apps

    There is a media war raging between the various app stores about how many apps there are, but to turn this on its head, as Richard Cambell off of .NET Rocks said 'Over 100K apps in the Windows Store is a disaster'. No one needs that many apps and how are you supposed to find the ones you need. Also, a lot of them are rubbish.

    I often find myself asking what's the best x app for Windows 8 such as "what's the best eBook reader for Windows 8", or "what's the best RSS reader for Windows 8". It was to help answer these questions that I created the site Appy Ninja. It also seemed like a good excuse …

  • Tower Blocks March Report

    So, I'm 3 months in and Tower Blocks has not yet become an Internet sensation. Also, I've been really busy with client projects and found it really hard to find the time to focus on Tower Blocks. This must be the dip I've heard so much about and experienced on most projects I've ever worked on. I've still got lots of ideas for this project, but I've also got new project ideas and it's very tempting to abandon this one and move on to new green pastures.

    In March the iOS version of Tower Blocks went live, but I didn't have enough time to get the problems I've got with the Windows Phone 8 …

  • Tower Blocks February Report

    Uploading Tower Blocks to iTunes

    This report follows on from my January report on the progress and experiments on my 3D tetris-like game Tower Blocks. In February Flappy Birds became a phenomenon and download figures for Tower Blocks improved slightly. I've also made good progress on the iOS and Windows Phone 8 versions of the game.

    The iOS version has been submitted to Apple and is waiting for review. The most difficult part of getting my code to run on different platforms has been converting the 3D models, images, sounds and fonts to the different formats that each platforms supports. I’m currently working on making the …

  • Tower Blocks January Report

    Tower Blocks - 3D Tetris

    Tower Blocks is Tetris with a 3D twist. I've been developing this game in my spare time since July 2013, although I first wrote down the idea in November 2012. On 1 December 2013 I put an early release into the Windows 8 Store. I was slightly embarrassed by this first release, but I wanted to get it out as soon as possible so I could get feedback and also some idea of numbers so I can set my expectations realistically.

    In 2014 I plan to be very business-like in how I develop and market the game. In these monthly reports I plan to share my plans and my results. Hopefully other people will find …

  • Creating the Tower Blocks splash screen

    Tower Blocks Splash Screen designs

    Andy Sykes AKA Hexjibber is an excellent illustrator, cartoonist and a good friend of mine. He's designed the splash screen and tiles for Tower Blocks, the latest game I've produced. I love the final work so much it's actually my favourite part of the game.

    I also love the process we went through together getting to the final piece and it's good to see the evolution of the idea. I wanted to give Andy a lot of freedom and I didn't have a strong idea of what I wanted. I gave him some examples of splash screens I liked had a bit of a chat and then sent him on his way. A few days later I opened …

  • Business Model Canvas App for Windows 8

    Business Model Canvas App for Windows 8

    A business model canvas is the lean alternative to a business plan. They say no business plan survives first contact with customers, so why write a large inflexible document. A business model canvas is supposed to give you at a glance the key important aspects and assumptions of your business. It shouldn't stay the same, but should change as you prove and disprove the assumptions your business model is based on. The idea comes from Alexander Osterwalder and he wrote about in his book Business Model Generation.

    I've been playing about with them for a few of my ideas and decided to create this …

  • Top Ten Windows 8 Apps

    The Creative Bloq App Generator Contest was sponsored by Windows 8 and was a chance for UK developers to be recognised for their excellent work. I was very pleased that my app Font Picker was one of the top ten winners, particularly because of the high quality of the other winners. Here are the all the winners of the contest.

    Grand Prize Winner

    Didlr – Rich Holdsworth

    Didlr lets you draw and share your pictures.

    Top ten prize winners

    These are in no particular order, except I'm biased so mine is at the top.

    Font Picker – Richard Garside

    Font Picker is an app for designers that makes trawling …

  • The Side Project Startup reading list

    This is the reading list for my talk, 'The Side Project Startup. I last gave this talk at DDD North 2 and it's slowly evolving every time I give it. If you're interested in side projects and starting your own small software business then this reading list is for you.


    The Lean Startup – Eric Ries

    If you've not heard of the Lean Startup or you're not convinced, then you should read this book. If you are convinced, then the next two books on this list actually go into detail you can start using today.

    Start small stay small – Rob Walling


    Sofware by Rob - Author of 'Start small …

  • Living off the long tail

    A long tail

    What is the long tail

    In his original post and the following book The Long Tail Chris Anderson explains the modern economic phenomenon of the long tail. Selling goods through the web, particularly digital goods is offering the consumer an alternative to the hit driven culture of the past:

    Forget squeezing millions from a few megahits at the top of the charts. The future of entertainment is in the millions of niche markets at the shallow end of the bitstream.

    The basic premise is that in the past a shop could only carry so much stock. In a physical shop space is limited and also costs rent. …

  • Launching Font Picker for mac

    Font Picker for Mac was waiting for approval in the Mac App Store when I agreed to talk at LSxCafe. Luckily it was approved the morning of the LSxCafe on Tuesday 6 March 2012, so it became my 'high profile' launch.

    Font picker is my first mac app and I'm really excited that it's now available for sale. I made the original version of Font Picker in 2008. It's popularity gradually grew and I started to get really nice feedback emails and ideas for new features. I really wanted to improve it and add those extra features, but I couldn't afford the time. The new Mac App Store (hopefully to be …