Friday 28 December 2012

The Hobbit

Due to the poor press reviews for the Hobbit I've decided to post my own review and besides 'tis Christmas. Peter Jackson's latest film the Hobbit in my opinion a most excellent and worthy addition to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

First of all the 2 hours and 50 mins were packed with action, plot and comedy, even though only one third of the book was covered. Saruman, the head wizard, makes an electric appearance and it is clear he has a dark malevolence about him which gives a new dimension and deeper scope to the plot. Driving the plot forward is an evil battle-scarred Orc who is chasing down the Dwarves with a pack of vicious Wargs.

[FREE][ANDROID] Crossword Solver

The special effects are breath taking, I saw the 3D high frame rate version and was dazzled with the visuals. The 3-D effects were as amazing as the first time I entered a Cinema 180 back in the 1980's. Plenty of objects flying in your face but tempered with the gorgeous New Zealand mountain scenery. The fight scenes are well executed with goblins and foes dispatched messily and quickly. I Look forward to the director's cert 18 cut!

There are plenty of jokes to keep you amused, I particularly liked when the dwarves piled into Bilbo's house and scraped their muddy boots on the fine furniture and then ate all his food. The scene with the trolls, based on London cockney taxi drivers was laugh out loud especially if know some of the vernacular.

The book chapters are closely followed such as Riddles in the Dark where Gollum and Bilbo try to outwit one another by posing riddles is an edge of seat tense experience. There is a nice touch when we first see the ring as it falls from Gollum's knickers. Andy Serkis reprises his role as Gollum and gives another fine performance, you can see why Bilbo stayed his hand as pity sank in.

There is a new main character, Radaghast the Brown (the Bird Tamer) as mentioned briefly in the LOTR, it would seem that him, Saruman  and a mysterious necromancer will be providing the extra plot and intrigue for the other two films of the trilogy. Maybe also Shelob, the spider.

Bilbo is played by Martin Freeman from the BBC comedy show the Office, and he pulls all of the same faces which suits the bewildered Bilbo Baggins of Bagend. I doubted this actor when I first heard but after watching I cannot imagine anyone else, even Ian Holm, nasty Bagginsesy!

To go back to my original point never trust the so called 'critics'. In fact always do the opposite of what they recommend as I bought the WestWing and New Battlestar Galactica box set based on excellent critics reviews, the horror the horror.

[FREE][ANDROID][DIET] Weight Tracker App, 

Oh Gandalf is in it too, smoking some fine weed!

Wishing You a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Pig Dog Bay

Thursday 13 December 2012

CleverDic Release 1.10

CleverDic on Google Market

The latest version of CleverDic has been released, the most versatile crossword solver and anagram finder for Android. Fantastic new features have been added such as  two-word anagram searches.

Two Word Anagrams

Better to explain this great new feature with an example:
Type in manchester united

CleverDic will find the following two word anagrams:

mechanised nutter
inducement haters
enchanters tedium
+20 other results

The order of the letters is unimportant, it is the position of the space that matters. So for
manchester united, the space splits the letters into a 10 letter word and a 6 letter word.
For george bush, the space splits the letters into 6 and 4 letter words. CleverDic will then use all the letters in georgebush to find all the possible 6-4 letter word combos.

If you do cryptic crosswords like me, two word anagrams are quite common so this feature is an essential aid in the crossword toolbox.

By the way george bush returns:

gouges herb
bugger hoes

Apologies for any offence.


It can be quite difficult sometimes to enter say 9 missing letters as you have to type 9 dots, ......... , which can be a strain on the eyes. I've made entering missing letters much simpler by using a number 1-9 to represent a group of missing letters. For example enter z9 to find all the 10 letter words starting with z, some of the examples found:


Clearer Bigger Display

The text field where you enter the letters and the search button are now bigger, some people were telling me that it was not obvious where to enter the text. The background now uses a much lighter shade of sky blue which has improved the appearance of the app in general.

Finally, I've replaced the Android icon from the about screen with an email icon, so that people can easily contact me.

Hope you like the new two word anagram feature.

Happy Crosswording

Pig Dog Bay


Saturday 8 December 2012

Android App Marketing

One big surprise with Android App development is how much time is required to market an app, in fact more effort has been spent marketing my app than actual development. Its a crowded market place out there, but I've found a few ways to  make headway.

Social Media

Most Android forums and blogs suggest using social media to promote your app without actually saying how. I'm not a big fan of Twitter or Facebook, pretty clueless to be honest, but this is what I have done.

  1. Create Twitter, Facebook business page, Facebook user page, Google+ and Blogger pages
  2. Posts links on your pages so that they are all cross referenced
  3. On your Facebook user page, pester your friends to like your business page
  4. Put links to your app on your pages
  5. Tweet links to your app
  6. Google for Android Forums or Android Blogs. On each blog or forum, follow (twitter), like (facebook), +1 (google+) all of them
  7. Post any news about your app, such as new releases on all your sites
  8. Promote the sites within your app, I use an About activity.
Early days yet for me, but I've gained 6 new followers on Twitter who represent major android websites. My Facebook business page still only has 8 likes, these are all from my friends. More importantly these pages show up on Google searches.

When tweeting about your app remember to hash-tag relevant keywords in the tweet, for example #crossword, hash-tags are are similar to keywords for search engines. Only use 1 or 2 hash tags per tweet.

My next step is to create a youtube video of  the app in action.


Forums are a great way to share ideas with fellow developers and to announce your app to the world for free. One forum that I really like is AndroidPit, there is a thread about promoting Android Apps. A few of us have asked each other to download and review each others app.

App Store Optimization

CleverDic ranked a lowly 28th on the list of apps when I searched for Crossword Solver. So I changed the title of my app to CleverDic Crossword Solver, my ranking jumped to 8th place. I then added a keywords section at the end of the description and my ranking moved up to 6th place. I've read that google does not condone using keywords, alas it seems most folk do use them.

Downloads have jumped 4 fold from around 10 per day to 40 per day. Still small fry in the Android world, but I'm hoping for more improvements to come.

I've also added a feature banner, promo image and text. These items appear on the desktop view of the google market place app page. Not sure what effect they have but the page looks more attractive and all the more successful apps employ these features. I've also posted these images on all my social media sites.


If all else fails badger your friends and family to download your app. If you see any one with an Android phone in the pub or at work, ask them politely if they mind downloading your app. More seriously though take a look at this very informative blog for further info on marketing android apps and making money:

Good luck marketing your app, let me know how you get on or any ideas you have
Pig Dog Bay


Monday 3 December 2012

CleverDic Release 1.09

CleverDic on Google Market

The latest version of CleverDic has been released, the versatile crossword and anagram solver for Android.

Hints and Tips

The biggest change has been to the user interface, a hints and tips box is now displayed on start up. I'm hoping this will improve the retention rate of the app, currently its 54% (Active installs divided by Total User installs). The early versions of CleverDic did show examples how to use the app, but were dropped when I changed the UI to use a list.

To implement the new hints and tips box I rewrote the UI to use fragments. Fragments allow you to break the UI into modules (or fragments!). When the user searches for a clue, the hints and tips box fragments is replaced by a list showing the results. I've spent a week testing the changes before releasing since I considered this to be a major change to the app. With fragments up and running it will be easier to add other features to the main screen.

App Rate Prompt

To help increase the number of ratings for CleverDic (currently standing at 6) I've included AppRate by TimotheeJeannin.

After at least 7 days and 10 uses a dialog box will pop up and ask the user to rate the app. The user can choose to rate, rate later or not to rate the app. Lots of good ratings are essential for a decent ranking in the App Store and persuading users to try the app over the many competitors.

Facebook and Twitter

I've put the facebook, twitter and blogger icons back on the about screen. I need to provide ways to allow users to partake in discussions, send feedback and share CleverDic with their friends. If nothing else, the icons look cool.

Name Change

CleverDic is now called CleverDic Crossword Solver. When searching for crossword solver apps, CleverDic ranked 28th, with the new name it now ranks 8th. I have being doing a little research on App Store  Optimization and this guy has great advice:

Happy Crosswording

CleverDic on Google Market