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Software Reviews. Who writes this stuff?

I was looking through the app store tonight browsing software reviews and the people who write them. I'm the type of person that typically doesn't email support and I don't write negative reviews in the Mac App Store. I will give a nod with the star rating system, and the Yes/No of The Was this Review helpful? That's usually about the end of it.

Sample 1 star review from a 5 star app, Clear.

Sample 1 star review from a 5 star app, Clear.

Some people just don't understand how the Mac App Store works. If you have a bug in your software, you have to submit for review To Apple the update for it. This isn't instantaneous - and can take a week or two - or more. It's out of your hands - and in Apple's. For example, if your app has a Printing bug that you missed, you can't just issue an update and get it out to the masses immediately like you can if you are selling direct. It's even trickier if you continue to sell direct and also in the Mac App Store. You can quickly issue your bugfix for the folks that purchased direct from you, but that leaves the Mac App Store folks waiting. And they aren't always patient. Instead of a quick support email, they would wrather write "This is crap. Apple needs to stop letting this junk in the store.". That's certainly helpful, right? Informative too.

I'd like the app store to add some additional criteria for submission.

I think it would benefit from Additional questions:

  • Did you request support from the Developer?
  • Are you using the latest version. (The app store should make sure you are before even permitting a review).

I'd say out of the 100 reviews I read tonight, I can (IMO) reasonably deduce who asked and who didn't without much error. Red flag #1 - If you wrote a paragraph or more - you possibly wrote an email to the Developer. If you write 1-2 sentences, And included the words Crap, Junk, Horrible, Frustrating, %$@#@, etc then you didn't Email the developer.

This affects the livelyhood of developers - bad reviews can equal lost sales. Developers are human - they miss things. Until you get your software working on hundreds or thousands of machines and scenarios, some bugs just don't show themselves. No software is perfect - it all has bugs. ALL of it. Perhaps you just haven't discovered them yet. When you do, email the developer, ask for a workaround and a timeframe for when it may possibly be fixed. Each app in the app store has a link to the developers website. Please use it. At the very least it will make the reviews more helpful and applicable for the folks that want To read it to make a decision to purchase an app.

If you don't hear back from the developer and their app really is junk, Feel free to review it, but just writing Junk with a one star doesn't make me do anything other than click the No when I'm asked Was this review helpful?

WWDC 2014 Roundup

Lots of great stuff announced today. Probably the best we've seen in a few years. Looking forward to the iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite integration. This brings parity to Android, and then surpasses it.

Free AppStore Gems

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A quick look into the app store will sometimes reveal some real gems - and this week, here are my current free favorites

  • Monday - 1Checker - This is a great proofreading application, help your writing with a little assistance from their online ability to process your prose.

  • Tuesday - Tyme - This is a pretty nice little Time Tracker. If you do any contract or freelance work, this has a nice interface for tracking project time, and even exporting it in a CSV format.

  • Wednesday - FolxGo - Now that Speed Download isn't supported on the latest editions of OS X, this a nice free app, with an option for an in-app purchase that enables scheduling and other tweaks. It even has plug-ins for your browsers - Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and even Opera....

  • Thursday - Composure - This is a fun little free app for collaging your photos, adding stickers to them, fun frames, etc. They do hit you with some in-app adds, but its still a cool little app.

  • Friday - Caffeine - It's been in my menubar for ever. Whenever I'm copying files, watching a video, burning a disc - I want my Mac to stay awake. Caffeine is a cool little app that does just that, with a shot of Caffeine.

Review: HMDX Jam Plus

HMDX Jam Plus

HMDX Jam Plus

I've been looking for an inexpensive portable bluetooth speaker solution for one particular place -- the bathroom. No, not for cranking my tunes when I'm taking care of business, but for those times when I'm taking a shower and want more sound than my puny iPhone 5 speakers can put out. The iPhone does OK, but when you have on the exhaust fan to keep the humidity at a minimum, combined with the pounding of water - it essentially drowns out most of my iPhone's sound.

I took to the streets - I looked high and low. Namely, the big box stores - Target, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart - as that's where I was when I decided to look. They had a few selections, some I'd never heard of -- but then one particular little speaker had some flare, and was in a plastic jar with a lid. What else would something called Jam be in?

The packaging intrigued me, so I did my obligatory Amazon search to see what the reviews were like. The original HMDX Jam had over 1,000 4 star reviews in Amazon, and the new HMDX Jam Plus has over 190. That's all I needed to see.

I took this little guy home and opened the jar of jam, so to speak, and pairing was a breeze. Press and hold the power button for 5 seconds, and then search for the device with my iPhone's bluetooth ability. That's all there was to it. Within seconds I was pumping up the Jam (pun intended) and enjoying my latest Spotify playlist.

The Jam Plus is a mono speaker, but if you buy TWO of them, you can pair them together to provide you with stereo sound. I only purchasd one, so I haven't tested that functionality, but it's nice to have the option. For me though, it wasn't necessary. For higher fidelity, I have my Kicker Ampitheater Bluetooth device. All that I required from the Jam was to be - Portable (it's 3" x 3" x 2.6"), Battery operated (it's rechargable via USB - lasts about 6hrs), loud, and inexpensive ($49 at Wal-Mart). The Jam Plus met all of these perfectly.

How does it sound?

Like you would expect an inexpensive speaker to sound. Good, not awesome. It's definiely louder and punchier on the bass than I expected. It's absolutely more than enough to leave in the bathroom during the shower and you can even move around from a room or two and still hear it just fine. Quite impressive for the price and size. Honestly, I've heard the Mini Jawbone Jambox, and I've not been impressed. This little HDMX Jam Plus sounds better to my ears and my wallet. It doesn't list frequency responce, but for this price, it's forgiveable. I had excellent results with music, podcasts, streaming radio - the whole gamet. I tested them all, and everything was audible, understandle and sounded nice and loud (but not distorted).

Final Thoughts

Nice little speaker for the money and sounds great. If you're on a budget - this is a definite buy.

HMDX Jam Plus - $59.95 USD

HMDX Jam Plus on Amazon - $39.95

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