Tag Archives: itunes

Seaborn app for the iPhone is out!

SeaborniPhoneAppIconThe Seaborn app for the iPad has been available for a while, and I'm working on a new version.  Apple just notified me that the iPhone version is now available!

Here are the links:

Seaborn iPhone app


Seaborn iPad app


Help me spread the word! Here's the HTML for the iPhone app:

<p><br />Seaborn <strong>iPhone</strong> app<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/seaborn-books-and-art/id468260118?mt=8"><br /><span style="font-size: medium;"><img src="http://www.saltwaterwitch.com/knowledgenix/AppAvailable-iPhone.png" border="0" alt="" width="116" height="40" /></span></a></p>

Here's the HTML for the iPad app:

<p><br />Seaborn <strong>iPad</strong> app<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=393798398&mt=8"><br /><span style="font-size: medium;"><img src="http://www.saltwaterwitch.com/knowledgenix/App-iTunes-iPad.png" border="0" alt="" width="116" height="40" /></span></a></p>

Here's the main menu for the Seaborn iPhone app:



iPhone 4s

Alice and I went up to the AT&T store in Newington yesterday morning, and walked out with a pair of iPhone 4s's.  There was a bit of a line, but they had things flowing smoothly.  You know I'd swear they've done this before…

This is my third iPhone. Pretty soon I'll have enough boxes to build a fort.


Category: Cool, iPhone | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I just found this link on Guy Kawasaki's G+ stream.  Everything you need to know about starting and operating a street food business in NYC, and I was thinking there's no end to the stories that can come out of being a street vendor in the City. Meeting hundreds of people every day, some of them regulars. The protag—the owner of the food truck or pushcart–can be a retired private investigator, an alien, a vampire, an impatient classically trained chef with a love for yakitori. Think what you can do with humor, information gathering, a front for crime or the CIA, horror–a street food vendor on Sept. 11.  What if we turn this vampire/undead thing on its head and suddenly every book and magazine publisher is getting dozens of stories centered on the street food business in NYC?  That would be worth writing and submitting a couple stories itself.

Who's with me?

Start here:

Go write something!


ArtsProjektLogo I'm really excited to tell everyone that I'm in ARTSPROJEKT, "a curated platform that empowers emerging and establish artists and brands to connect, collaborate, and showcase original art, designs and ideas with fans and consumers."
–and I'm in here with a lot of extremely talented and imaginative artists.

See my store here:


I'm going to be doing all kinds of cool product designs, but to start off I have a few different iPhone and iPad cases I want everyone to hear about.  (iPad, iPhone 3G/3Gs, iPhone 4 cases).  I'll be adding new designs very soon, so check back.


I'm still putting some details together, but I'll be running a contest to win a Saltwater Witch iPhone case (iPhone 3G/3GS or 4) as well as some other cool prizes.  Stay tuned for that, too–and if you have any contest ideas or prize ideas, I'd love to hear them.

IPadCase IPhone4Case

iPad and iPhone 4 cases above.

Below there's a shot of the iPhone 3Gs case–this is a Speck® Fitted™ Hard Shell Case, really kick-ass case for your phone. Closeup of the case, "Saltwater Witch"




Seaborn iPad app available in iTunes!


Calling all iPad owners!



App_Seaborn Seaborn—the iPad app—is a book and art platform for the stories, illustrations, paintings, and author notes created by me (Chris Howard) for a collected set of my works—the novel Seaborn, the graphic novel Saltwater Witch, and Seaborn’s sequel, Sea Throne. Also included: character studies, timelines, maps, character lists, sample audio chapters of Seaborn, art portfolio, short stories, and chapters from the SF thriller Nanowhere.

Okay, that’s the formal description of the app. It’s also a discovery effort to develop the necessary components of a mobile author and artist platform.

SeabornMenu I wanted to create something that makes it convenient to get to an author’s or illustrator’s work, especially the creative side-stuff we do that doesn’t always have a home, some of which appears in our blogs, they’re slapped up on image-sharing sites, scattered across the universe. Two things I heard over and over after Seaborn hit the shelves: “I wish there was a character list included in the book”, and “how do you pronounce names like ‘Kallixene’?”

My ultimate aim is to build something that brings it all together in a place that’s always available—with the base assumption that very few of us go anywhere without a mobile device.

Be warned: version 1.0 has a couple embarrassing typoes–fixed in version 1.1, which should be ready for download in a few days.  Version 1.0 is up now.  Go get it.  Grab the update when Apple pushes it to iTunes.

I’d really like some feedback on the contents, layout, the scrolling panes for Saltwater Witch, missing features, everything.

To go along with the app, I’ve updated the Saltwater Witch comic site, moved everything over to the actual SaltwaterWitch.com site.

Here’s a set of app screenshots:


SeabornArt SWitchMain




Book Promotionware Version 1.0 Workflow

SeabornPromotionWareHomeScreen What I'm calling "Book Promotionware" is an application structure for building software that encourages book purchasing and interaction with the publisher and author, provides valuable sample content, and at its heart, a game or participatory activity that invites a reader into the world of the story.

Keeping in mind that this is a work in progress—with a very concrete short term goal of getting feedback on an application for the iPad, here are the elements of the version 1.0 structure: Home, Content, About, Links, Settings, and Game.   My ultimate goal, after sorting out what works and what doesn't, is to build a reusable framework for just about any book. Drop in art, animation, music and effects audio, sample chapters, author photo, links, a little bit of custom configuration, and you're ready submit to the iTunes app store.

See the workflow "poster" below–click on it for the full view.  I've also included a download link at the end of this post if you want the printable full view, 13 x 19 inches at 300 dpi, about 20MB.


To test drive this framework I'm using my first novel, Seaborn (Juno Books, 2008), and it will feature a fast paced, animated, deep-sea diving adventure called "Jelly Jam"–blogged about it here:

ebooks" and the near-future of book promotion

and also see my first post on this idea here:

for books

All the screenshots in the poster below (except the About and Links pages, which I'll put together last) are from the latest built of my actual working app on the iPad.  The game is working, with two levels complete.  It scores and saves points, tracks jelly stings and, if you avoid any in one of the six waves you have to go through in each level, you get a "No Sting Bonus".  The game starts out relatively easy while players get the feel of swimming, speeding up, slowing down, maneuvering, and using the various tools like Light and Shields.  Also, it's not all avoiding jellies.  There's a batch of mean squid, there are zombie jellies that you want to avoid and destroy.

Audio: I found a set of loopable music tracks that fit the mood of the game, and purchased a royalty-free license from PremiumBeat.  I've also created a handful of sound effects, mostly clicks, zings, splats and other sounds. 

One aspect of the game I think is cool—and we'll see if players do too, is the marine environment and biological information Kassandra fires off as she's diving into the abyss and avoiding jelly stings.  She talks about the size of whale brains and the nematocysts and tidal forces.


For version 1.0, settings are all about audio volume with separate sliders for background music and effects.  Settings are stored on exiting the app, along with the player's current game level and high score.


For the Seaborn app, I'm including the first three chapters of the book in a scrollable window.  For page display I'm using a UIWebView with a transparent background, which allows me to wrap some art around the book.  I'm exploring the idea of breaking the text into page chunks and adding the touch events for sliding forward and backward through a stack of pages, but I'll save that for next release.

The content section also includes three slide out pages of extra cool stuff, like art for the book, notes of living underwater, character list, and maps.  Don't think of the content section as where you throw samples.  Think of it as a valuable addition to the book whether the reader buys it through iBooks, on the Kindle, the trade paperback.  The format doesn't matter.  What we want is the reader to see the promotion app as a place to get more information like a zoomable map or a list of the characters and their roles in the story, real places in the story that link out to Google maps. 

Things I probably won't get to in this release:

1.    Online high score tracking
2.    Paging for content with gestures



Download the printable view of the workflow "poster".


Okay, I’m sold, Mr. Jobs. I love the iPad.

I think everyone should have one of these badass glass-topped and sealed easy to use powerhouses.

Photo(2) My iPad showed up yesterday around noon, and I've been playing with it since. I've downloaded a dozen or so apps, including iBooks, Pages, Plants vs Zombies, Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Marvel's comic app, and a pack of others. I'm even typing this post on my iPad.

Getting started

If you already have an iPhone or iPod Touch, getting started with an iPad will be a  breeze.  If you're new to Apple's phone and consumer device scene, it'll take you about fifteen minutes longer.   I know grasping Apple's OS's is supposed be intuitive. Unfortunately none of us share the same code, brain, a priori knowledge, automatized whatever, so there are idiosyncrasies you'll have to get used to–that either arise out of the device's portable nature or Apple's sense of how things ought to work, which may not match yours.  Nothing extraordinary, but don't be surprised if you hit a couple behavioral expectation anomalies. It won't take you long to get it all down.

Again, I'm typing this whole thing on a keyboard made of glass.  And my expectations were low for actually typing anything serious on this flat virtual keypad.  I even ordered the dockable keyboard, certain that I'm going to need it. I still think I'll use a real keyboard for writing, but I'm really impressed with the usability of the on-screen deal.

Apps and books

On day one, April 3rd, there are a bunch of necessary iPad-specific apps available like Apple's own iWork apps–but not thousands.  I'm typing this in Pages, which I don't really like on the Mac.  There are just better alternatives available.  It's more than adequate on the iPad.

Photo Here's a screenshot of the top grossing apps in iTunes, with some good stuff, including the rockin' OmniGraffle.  Notice also the prices of the ipad apps, all of them higher than typical iPhone apps.  I'm putting that down to the ability to offer and do more on the iPad platform over the iPhone/touch. The apps I have on both platforms, like Sketchbook Pro, tell me that the iPad versions are just going to be bigger more-featured versions of their iPhone counterparts, and consequently pricier.

The iBooks app is stunning.  In terms of book-like beauty, iBooks sweeps everything else away.  I have a Kindle2 and a Sony Reader.  I love them.  I love reading ebooks.  I'm a fan of eInk's reflective technology.  But I'll come right out and say it: iPad with the iBooks reader kicks their asses.  This is the closest I've ever seen to reading a real book on a device.

On the other hand, iBooks, in terms of content, is a total disappointment.  Some solid bestsellers, big non-fic titles, but it's going to have to really ramp up if Apple wants to take on Amazon, B&N, Sony, and anyone with more than a thousand books and a delivery process.  I fully expect them to, but if I could have wished for one thing to have at the iPad launch, it would have been a gigantic pile of content available in the book store.  Sigh.

No camera

I don't want a camera on this thing.  Now that I have it in my hands, the last thing I'd want to do is take pictures with it.  It's just too big.  Until I had the iPad in my hands, the lack of a camera bothered me.  In the future?  It would work, and it would be a nice extra.  But now I see what Apple's designers saw.  It would be like taking pictures with a dinner plate, little bit silly. I have cameras on several other devices.  I can shoot and send the pic to my iPad.  The lack of a camera just doesn't seem like the problem it did a couple days ago.

File importing and exporting

As it stands, this is a pain in the ass. I'm hoping for an cleaner, easier way to get files on and off the iPad in the future.  Here's the File Sharing section at the bottom of the Apps tab when your iPad is connected.  I didn't even see it at first, didn't even know I could scroll down, or what I would find when I did.  (I searched Apple help for this one).

Screen shot 2010-04-04 at 2.22.47 PM

Locked into Apple and iTunes?

Maybe. I think DRM is a waste of time and money, and I don't think Apple would disagree.  Even so, I don't feel locked into much with my iPad. I only buy about half my music from iTunes. Importing music, video and audio books is simple.  If you really need something write it yourself.  I've written a batch of iPhone apps, a couple in the app store, and I'm already writing iPad apps, stuff for the App Store as well as utilities for myself.  Complaining about Objective-C I can understand–and I have a fairly strong C and C++ background.  Still think we should have been able to develop apps in Lua, Python, etc. all along.

The sealed, glued device you don't own because you can't easily take it apart?

I say "easily" because that's exactly what they did on iFixit.com, and they make it look pretty easy.

This is probably the least understandable argument against the iPad. It has a Luddite fear of technological change hysteria to it. A Luddite may even want technological change, but at a snail's pace and only if it uses last century's materials, tooling methods and design constraints.  It's a fear felt by those who want technology to remain at a comfortable level, a level they can understand and work with.  While I just see smaller, sealed, easier to use nearly-unbreakable devices as the future–and I don't know about you, but I see a future where homes, cars, furniture, and consumer devices are sophisticated enough to self heal, powerful enough to evolve and grow new parts instead of requiring firmware upgrades and replaceable batteries, devices you can communicate with, devices that can tell you how they work if you want to know.  Sorry to say we're not going to get there with screwdrivers.

Technology is what I want

Yeah, there's been some iPad-bashing, some of it well-deserved, some of it just makes me shake my head. I can understand slamming the hype machine, because so much of the time that's all a product is, a lot of talk, bright colors, the big and loud stage show.  Not the case here.  And yes, the Apple freaks can get out of hand sometimes, ooh-ing and ah-ing and sacrificing blood relatives to Vengeful Cupertinoea.  You know who you are.  We all know you're excited.  Come on, break it up.

Here's the thing, I genuinely think the iPad is a revolutionary device, and it will change everything–or maybe a better way to put it: the iPad will drive everyone else into this tactile slate format future with a device that's easy to use, that's as powerful as any computer without the system and config hassles, and solid enough to use as a weapon.  .

That's it for now.  I'm going to write the other half of the book I'm currently writing in Pages on my iPad.  I'll be posting on progress, the good and bad.


Category: Cool, Web/Tech | Tags: , , ,

My first iPhone app in the iTunes App Store!

PhotoStamp, an iPhone app that makes it easy to stamp any image in your
Camera Roll with a copyright line, a URL, your name, any custom message.  Great if you're uploading your photos to TwitPic, Flickr, SmugMug, etc.  It's free.  It's in the iTunes App Store. 

Interesting note: I sub'd PhotoStamp on July 1 and exactly fifteen days later it's in the iTunes Store. I don't know how many apps are submitted daily, but it's a lot, and they're handling it well.  Apple, you rock!

Here's the link:

PhotoStamp in the iTunes App Store!

(opens iTunes)

Go get it!


Picture 1 Picture 2 Picture 4

Isn't this beautiful?

Picture 1