Texas Blackout

Life is full of experiences, mostly good, some bad; however, the best part of life is overcoming the obstacles stronger and smarter. February was one of those bad moments for me personally and millions of my fellow Texans as we all suffered without electricity in the bitter cold. Temperatures reached as low as -1 in my area of Bell County, Texas. My rental was without electricity for 6 days (about 153 hours). The electricity finally turned back on the 7th day at 1:41 PM. They had a crew of 6 or so trying to figure it out outside our duplex. As the lights came back on, the emotions that flowed through my body were just as exciting as hitting nitrous in a speeding race car down the road. Hell yes, no more cold showers, crappy sandwiches, dripping water faucets, worrying about if my family is warm in all our blankets, and worrying about our pipes from bursting.

 

What Went Wrong?

 

Relying on the electric grid is what went wrong! Being without power for almost 7 days made me realize how much we depend on the electric company. It’s making me think about how can I power my equipment when the power company fails the next time? How can I ensure I can provide heat for my family? 

 

The electric power grid in Texas seems to have a weakness, temperatures below 20 degrees. What happened in February 2021 was a repeat of the Texas blackout of 2011. 

 

“More than 4.5 million customers in Texas were without power during the peak of outages in the state this week, as freezing temperatures hit parts of the country.”

 

ERCOT back in 2011 told Texans to “conserve energy so as not to overburden the system.” 

 

As if the customer is the issue here. What we witnessed today in February 2021 and 2011 seems to be an ERCOT issue with their equipment. Telling the customer to “conserve” usage because they cannot provide reliable electricity is wrong. Get it together, ERCOT. It has been 10 years since the last blackout. If you cannot offer reliable service, then what good are you? 

 

“The system broke down this week when 185 generating units, including gas and coal-fired power plants, tripped offline during the brunt of the storm. Wind turbines in West Texas froze as well, and a nuclear unit near the Gulf of Mexico went down for more than 48 hours. Another problem emerged: Some power plants lost their pipeline supply of gas and couldn’t generate electricity even if they wanted to capture the high prices. Such mechanical problems might have been avoided if operators had chosen to equip their plants like those that operate in traditional cold-weather states.” 

 

When Did My Power Go Out?

 

It started Monday at 3:00 AM. The night before, I had no idea how just like that, my life would change. Not just for me but also for my family and kids.

 

Cancellations Galore

 

  • Schools shut down.
  • Government offices.
  • USPS mailbox wasn’t accessible due to covered in ice. No mail service.
  • Doctors couldn’t provide service.
  • No jobs to go to without electricity.
  • Loss of job pay.
  • No productivity.

 

What Went Right

 

I already had a propane stove. I was able to cook food and boil water. We also had several instant lunch chicken flavored soup stocked up, bottled waters, LED flashlight lanterns, bread, and peanut butter. We barely had enough to survive. 

 

We charged our phones and iPads in the car. I had no way to charge MacBook Pro. The vehicle also provided much-needed heat at different parts of the day. It wasn’t until Saturday that the snow and ice cleared up to where we could drive. Before that, we were stranded at the house. Too dangerous to drive.

 

Saturday was the best as I ordered a double steak hamburger at Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers. I was finally able to have a real meal with protein.

 

What went wrong?

 

Since the power went out at 3:00 AM Monday by the time we woke up for the day, our food was spoiled. It’s incredible how fast heat gets inside our refrigerator when turned off. Had to be over $200 worth of food in our refrigerator, freezer, and backup freezer. 

 

Having a propane stove is invaluable, especially in times like this. However, most of our food was already thawed out, so the propane stove became almost useless. 

 

We tried to salvage what we could by putting food outside. The temperatures were in the single digits then. We should have acted sooner as soon as the power went out and placed everything outside, but of course, this was one of those, could of, would of, should of things you think about after the fact. At that given moment, there was no way of knowing what would happen to us for the next several days.

 

What I Wish I Had – How To Be Better Prepared Next Time?

 

During these 7 days of bitter cold and suffering, I wish I had a propane heater. That would have made our life so much easier, especially after having to take dreadfully cold showers. The cold temperatures of -1 and constantly 20 to 30 degree days were rough. We had blankets covering the windows, doors, and hallways. Wore jackets all day and bundled up. 

 

In addition to having a propane heater is a generator. A generator would be excellent to power my gear to at least charge my laptop, get on the internet, and whatnot. 

 

That would have made this whole blackout less of a burden.

 

Conclusion

 

The Texas electric grid seems to be vulnerable and must get fixed. What I experienced this past week was something I hope no one has to go through, as it was horrible. My heart and prayers go out to my fellow Texans who also suffered through this. We couldn’t have made it without our neighbors who came together. This was definitely a learning experience I hope we can all learn from and never repeat again. 

 

On a personal note: I like to help individuals rather than send money to a charity organization. Helping people is a beautiful thing. Here’s a PayPal donate link to anyone wanting to help us get back up and running. Any additional funds will go to my neighbors to help with food, water bill, the electric bill, and supplies. Dripping our faucet water for 7 days is not going to be a cheap water bill. Any help would be much appreciated. Thank you. 

DONATE

Much like the American Dream, ever since people from around the world have experienced the App Store, it is as if a door was open for us that wasn’t before. The spark of hope and excitement at the opportunities that putting an app out could mean for us individually. Maybe it’s the thought of being apart of a lucrative business model that drives us. At times I feel like this is the digital version of the gold rush of our day. Everyone has a great app idea; the question is, what are you going to do about it?

 

Expectations – The Shiny Object Syndrome

 

It all happens to us, and the shiny object syndrome pulls us in, mostly when you read about independent app developers who become millionaires. Once in a while, there is another successful app developer in the news. All the success with rainbows and sunshine. Don’t get me wrong, and I’m all for reading about these successes and congratulate every one of them. I even had to congratulate one of my competitors who sold his company for $5 million. That was good as it validated I was on to something and a disappointment as I didn’t aim higher in my app features. The expectations of starting as an app developer are that everything is good, there are no troubles or obstacles, and it will be an easy path to go down on. Right?

 

Reality Check

 

Reading someone’s “overnight success” can be misleading. The good part is it outlines the successes the person or company was able to achieve. However, it doesn’t reveal how many years, the struggles, obstacles, and long hard work that was put in to achieve such an accomplishment. 

 

Being an independent app developer requires a particular type of person. It will challenge you to think differently. You will build patience as you handle obstacles in your code errors, Apple’s rejections, Microsoft headaches, Android entitled non-existent sales, and app reviews from people yelling at you for a $0.99 app. The developer puts in the sweat equity of long hours in front of a computer. Ensuring the software art project is a thing of beauty only to find it wasn’t good enough. Back to the drawing board to fix things and work harder next time. This vicious cycle has the benefit of becoming more polished in our craft. It helps us become more robust despite it not being easy. The more obstacles we can handle, the more effective we can become. 

 

There are some apps I’ve spent weeks developing only to have it rejected from the App Store. It is as if these various App Stores are the gatekeeper of who are allowed to publish apps and who isn’t. On one side of the coin, they are great as they handle all the traffic, logistics, and financials. However, on the other hand, they limit the app developer’s creativity side as we can only go so far, and if you think differently from them, they shut you down with a click of a button. 

 

The reality of being an indie app developer is that there are so many variables we must meet each month, quarter, and yearly. We have to comply with ever-changing laws and regulations and the more than yearly changes on every App Store we are on. If they release the latest gadget, you bet we have to own it to ensure our apps can run on them. It was easy at first, but it can be too much to buy new gear over time. 

 

Software changes continuously. Your app may work flawlessly now but might need adjusting after there’s an update to a new operating system of the year. Apple releases a new version every year, and Microsoft has its list of changes. Your app requires maintenance monthly or quarterly to run and stay in the game.

 

Not all app ideas are successful, nor is it a guarantee you will get one sale. The app must provide some value that the user wants and demands.

 

App ideas do not always pan out as you visioned them to be. Certain features can be rejected from the App Store. Governments can demand to shut you down. There are so many reasons that can go wrong and most likely will. On a positive note, if it were easy, then everyone would be successful, right? I think this is what drives us, our courage to want to make our stand against the odds and prove others wrong. Test our abilities to overcome challenges to see what happens.

 

Even if your app gets published, there are more hurdles to pass through next.

 

Top Reasons Why the End-User Won’t Try Your App:

 

  1. The app icon isn’t polished enough.
  2. The app isn’t free.
  3. The app costs more than its competitors.
  4. The app cost more than $0.99.
  5. UX / UI.
  6. The app is a slow website. Not native.
  7. You must create an account to use the app (I’m not too fond of these).
  8. App reviews.
  9. Bad screenshots.
  10. Slow to load.
  11. Requires user to type in the information. They want it done for them.
  12. Etc

 

Will Your App Be A Successful Hit?

 

There are so many variables at play when releasing a new app to the world. It is not up to me or you what becomes successful or not. It is up to the market. The end-user will decide who makes it and who fails. Our job is to listen and adapt to the best of our abilities hoping the market accepts our app. 

 

One thing to remember is, what was successful back then, will not be successful now.

 

Conclusion

 

Can indie app developers still make it today? To be successful, you must put in the work to provide results. There are no shortcuts, unfortunately.

 

We can view things from a different perspective here. In a 9 to 5 job, you trade your time for work. As an appreneur, as they say, you trade results for possibilities. No matter how many hours, weeks, months, years it takes, your results (app products) are the only metric that matters. There is no guaranteed salary here, but self-employment can be very fruitful if you work harder than traditional full-time employees and are consistent with what you do. My message is to reveal the ups and downs of this path. Is it worth all the effort? Yes. Is it easy? No. Will you become a millionaire doing this? It is possible, but there are no guarantees you will make a buck. I find being an independent app developer to be fulfilling as it has brought me experiences that are both enjoyable and horrible times. Looking back to how this all started, the only regret I have is not working harder and faster. It is the experience that makes this whole journey aspiring. 

 

The name of the game here is taking action. No matter how many obstacles we face, the ones closer to success are those who push forward despite the risk and challenges ahead. Don’t focus on complaining and setting up a non-profit organization like some fellow app developers are doing. Focus on improving your product instead. Doing the work generates results while complaining doesn’t solve anything.

 

The real question is, what actions will you take with this knowledge I’m passing onto you?

 

 

Speed up your productivity with Chopping Block, our automated app icon resizer tool.

Mac App Store

Chopping Block Icon

What if an app could save you hours of time, resources, and headaches? Would that interest you at all? Our latest app, called Chopping Block, does just that. Chopping Block is an application that helps app developers resize their app icon images from 1024×1024 to all the various app icon size requirements. 

 

Each device platform requires different app icon sizes and can become a very daunting task. For instance, as I write this article, Windows 10 currently requires 56 different app icon sizes for the same app. For independent app developers like myself, this is a very tedious task. For iOS / iPad we have 22 icons, macOS requires 10 icons, and watchOS requires 11 icons. Chopping Block has another built-in feature that allows for running a bundle of image resizes up to 8 icon images at a time.

 

Android is not supported in Chopping Block because Android Studio has an excellent built-in generator for app icons. Chopping Block is available because all the other platforms lack such a great feature. 

 

What makes Chopping Block so unique and extraordinary is how much time it saves you. First, drop your 1024×1024 app icon artwork and click on the desired platform to automatically generate the needed app icon image. 

 

The following shows all the app icon sizes for each platform.

 

iOS / iPad

 

  1. 512×512
  2. 1024×1024
  3. 1024×1024
  4. 60×60
  5. 120×120
  6. 120×120
  7. 180×180
  8. 76×76
  9. 152×152
  10. 167×167
  11. 20×20
  12. 40×40
  13. 40×40
  14. 40×40
  15. 80×80
  16. 80×80
  17. 120×120
  18. 29×29
  19. 29×29
  20. 58×58
  21. 58×58
  22. 87×87

 

macOS

 

  1. 512×512
  2. 1024×1024
  3. 256×256
  4. 512×512
  5. 128×128
  6. 256×256
  7. 32×32
  8. 64×64
  9. 16×16
  10. 32×32

 

watchOS

 

  1. 48×48
  2. 55×55
  3. 58×58
  4. 87×87
  5. 80×80
  6. 88×88
  7. 100×100
  8. 172×172
  9. 196×196
  10. 216×216
  11. 1024×1024

 

Windows 10 – Universal Windows Platform (UWP)

 

  1. 284×284
  2. 142×142
  3. 71×71
  4. 107×107
  5. 89×89
  6. 600×600
  7. 300×300
  8. 150×150
  9. 225×225
  10. 188×188
  11. 1240×600
  12. 620×300
  13. 310×150
  14. 465×225
  15. 388×188
  16. 1240×1240
  17. 620×620
  18. 310×310
  19. 465×465
  20. 388×388
  21. 176×176
  22. 88×88
  23. 44×44
  24. 66×66
  25. 55×55
  26. 256×256
  27. 48×48
  28. 16×16
  29. 32×32
  30. 24×24
  31. 256×256
  32. 48×48
  33. 16×16
  34. 32×32
  35. 24×24
  36. 256×256
  37. 48×48
  38. 16×16
  39. 32×32
  40. 24×24
  41. 2480×1200
  42. 1240×600
  43. 930×450
  44. 775×375
  45. 620×300
  46. 96×96
  47. 48×48
  48. 36×36
  49. 30×30
  50. 24×24
  51. 200×200
  52. 100×100
  53. 75×75
  54. 63×63
  55. 50×50
  56. 48×48

As you look through the list above, you will notice some redundancy as icon sizes are the same but are used for different scenarios, as you will see once they are assigned. 

 

 Chopping Block is an invaluable tool for all app developers. I invite you to download it now and leave us a review of your thoughts.

 

Mac App Store

 

 

Android, Google Play, and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.
Mac is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.
Apple and the Apple logo are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.
Living Paycheck to Paycheck? 7 Tips for Avoiding Extra Fees

Living paycheck to paycheck is exhausting. As soon as your paycheck comes in, you have to spend it all on necessities like rent, utilities, insurance, and paying off debt. There’s usually little, if anything, left for savings or recreational activities. 

 

Then, something even worse happens: you’re hit with a fee. You might have missed a payment deadline, overdrawn your account, lost your credit card, or encountered a different situation that decided your wallet needed another gut-punch. It might only sound like $12, the cost of a cheap meal out, but it’s $12 you don’t have and desperately need for something else. 

 

You might feel dread toward these impending fees when you pay a bill, or they come at you from out of nowhere. If you live paycheck to paycheck and want to make sure as much of your hard-earned money goes where it should, follow these seven tips for avoiding unnecessary fees. 

 

Avoid Banks that Charge Maintenance Fees 

 

Bank “maintenance fees” are particularly sinister. Financial institutions charge them if you don’t meet specific requirements, such as holding a minimum balance in your account ($1,500 in the case of many big banks) or making frequent direct deposits over a specified amount. You might not even be aware of them unless you check your billing statement. 

 

It’s not fair that banks charge you money for not having enough money. Maintenance fees are often monthly and can accumulate over time — Americans paid $3.5 billion in maintenance fees in 2017. These fees perpetuate the poverty cycle because if you live paycheck to paycheck or have irregular income (like freelancers), of course you don’t have $1,500 in your account at all times. 

 

Don’t use banks that charge maintenance fees. Many big banks do, but examples of financial institutions that don’t include Ally Bank, Capital One Bank 360, and FNBO Direct. 

 

Deposit Money the Long Way 

 

Deposit money into your account the long way, if possible. This process means being patient when getting paid, especially if you’re a contractor or freelancer that relies on services like PayPal. 

 

PayPal offers multiple bank transfer options, including Standard Transfer and Instant Transfer. The former is free and takes one to three business days, but the latter costs 1% of the transaction up to $10. Opt for the Instant Transfer option when you can, or use mobile deposit with a physical check. 

 

Use Apps that Don’t Charge Minimum Fees 

 

However, the pay cycle is notorious for delays that make living paycheck to paycheck even more difficult. It’s entirely possible that you need your money now, not later — but what can you do about it? You can’t exactly force direct deposit to go faster. 

 

One solution is to use financial apps that allow you to access your paycheck without having to wait weeks for it. One such app is Earnin, which you can use to access up to $100 of your paycheck per day, up to $500 per pay period. The app deducts the amount you took out on payday without mandatory fees or interest. Earnin is community-driven, so you can pay however much you think is fair as a thank you for its service. 

 

Set Up Auto Pay 

 

Are late fees the bane of your existence because you regularly forget to pay a bill on time? Apps like Earnin can help you avoid late fees, but consider setting up auto-pay on your credit card and other if you can afford to do so. This way, you never have to remember payment deadlines; your account will pay what you owe automatically. 

 

Sign Up for Low-Balance Alerts 

 

If you cannot risk auto-pay because you’re worried about insufficient funds, then sign up for low-balance alerts with an app or through your bank. Low-balance alerts will notify you when your account balance has dipped below a certain number — possibly of your choosing, depending on the service — so that you know when it’s time to replenish your account with additional funds or to watch your budget before bills are due. 

 

These alerts aren’t perfect because banks can be slow to share information with external apps. However, they can help avoid bank overdraft fees, which financial institutions charge if you opt-in to its overdraft protection service. While the ability to overdraw your checking account and complete transactions regardless of funds seems convenient, there are other pros and cons to consider (you can also open a checking account with no overdraft fees). 

 

Use Your Bank’s ATMs

 

ATM fees are one of the most-hated fees in the U.S. You incur these fees if you want to access your money from a machine that’s not in your bank or credit union’s network. 

 

Only use ATMs within your financial institution’s network when possible. If none are around, you can obtain cash at a supermarket that offers cash back options with a small purchase (which sounds like a fee in itself, so only buy something you need!). 

 

Opt-Out of Paper Communications 

 

Your bank is going to communicate with you, and you would be wise to pay attention. Unfortunately, many banks default to mailing paper communications instead of using digital means — and then charge you for it. Log into your online account or call your bank’s customer service line to opt-out of paper notifications and save yourself some cash. 

 

Unnecessary fees make it extra challenging for people living paycheck to paycheck to save money. If you want to lose as little of your money as possible to predatory financial institutions, research what fees your bank (or prospective bank) charges and which they are most likely to make you pay, depending on your situation. 

This article originally appeared on Earnin.

How Will the App Privacy Nutritional Label Affect You?

Do you value your own privacy? Can consumers who use smartphones use apps and have privacy?

 

Apple App Developers are now required to include a nutrition label of all methods used to collect user data. This is excellent news for consumers worldwide and is why I personally trust Apple more than its competitors. Android smartphones are a hot mess. They are releasing smartphones that cannot be upgraded to the latest Android OS, and security patches are not available to most of them. The Android platform is a hacker’s playground. At least, Apple updates its products, talks about privacy, and putting out solutions to combat it. At the same time, it is also alarming how many tech companies do track their users. 

 

Even before Apple introduced this idea of display an App Nutrition Label, I have already laid out all my apps and what data is collected. The only information I collect is for analytics to improve the app. The other requirements are all Google’s advertisement network requirements to run. I even released new apps without anything in them because I value my privacy, and I’m sure my users do as well. If you’re curious, it’s available here. The Prayer Request App has nothing in it; it is 100% free, with no ads or analytics. I thought I’d get more app reviews, but I guessed wrong. Users only write a review when it doesn’t work, right?

 

How does this affect you, the consumer?

 

The nutritional labels will help consumers make a better decision on which apps to trust. This is a good thing for consumers. Thus building a trust in which brands we feel connected with.

 

How does this affect you, the developer?

 

If you are collecting data that you shouldn’t, then this will be bad for you. Can you imagine seeing the long list of items some of these top social media and tech giants collect on us? How about seeing a long list for an app that shouldn’t be collecting anything, to begin with?

 

This will make the developer think twice before releasing third-party libraries that track its users. For most app developers, we have ethics that we should follow. However, there will always be bad players who may try to sneak around these new nutrition labels. 

 

Do in-app advertisements collect my data?

 

Any app with built-in advertisements uses third-party SDKs (software developer kit) that most likely track all kinds of metrics. All this extra data collecting isn’t always in the developer’s control. Advertising vendors collect data that the developer isn’t even aware of. This is why paying for the premium app is your best bet—just something to think about when choosing that “free application” with advertisements. The best bet is to purchase or set up a subscription to that new app. The cool thing about this is app developers are like the mom and pop shops of the past. An app purchase helps them provide for their families. App developers need to eat too. 

 

What’s the future for mobile advertisements?

 

The advertisement space may not be around in the future. This is my thoughts as more laws, and with Apple’s help to rid of these privacy data collecting issues are brought to our awareness. Laws are complicated, and as new laws are put on the books, it will be hard for developers to keep up with them. That alone can make us not want to deal with advertisements anymore as it will be too much of a hassle. I think advertisements will be blocked, which dries up revenue for content creators who rely on them. By doing this, we won’t have as many free apps, but alternatively, we will have paid and even subscription models. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. These are just my opinions. What are your thoughts?

 

Conclusion

 

These are exciting times for users as more strict rules are being enforced to reveal the types of shenanigans tech giants are doing behind our backs. Moving forward, at least there is a label where users can be aware of what the software is doing in the background. This may not be a fix-all, but at least it is moving in the right direction.  

Brain Image

The clock shows 9:00 PM on a weekday. The house is quiet, and everyone is sound asleep, except for you. You are sitting in the office coding away on your computer with loud music playing on your headphones. You feel pumped, energetic, confident in your work, hell yes, you’re pumping out code during your work session. Your code debugging is flawless; everything is compiling as expected. Ten items on your to-do list have been checked off and marked done. You say to yourself, I’ve been more productive tonight than I was in the last 7 days. This makes you feel like a superhero and can take on the world. You start to rub your eyes and feel tired, not realizing it is now 3:33 AM on the clock. What just happened? Well, you were in the zone. Now you better stop and get some rest. I know, I know, you still feel you can keep going. Yes, you could, but your body needs its rest.

 

Does that sound familiar?

 

What is the zone?

 

Being in the zone is a fantastic feeling. You have no distractions, which allows you to have an intense focus on your task. Your mind expands, and you can finally put together this complex algorithm together. No distractions mean a better understanding of your code and how it all operates together, thus helping you become more productive. The part that makes being in the zone addicting is how it makes you feel while in the zone. It is like a drug that you want; all your worries go away, life struggles vanish, no one nagging at you, you feel complete bliss and don’t want it to stop.

 

Productivity through the roof

 

The feeling you have after being in the zone and looking back at your progress can be fantastic. It feels as if we are a superhero who crushed that to-do list.

 

How to get in the zone?

 

I can only talk about personal experience as I am no expert in this. The best way to get in the zone is through music. I put headphones on and code away. There really isn’t much to it; after 30 minutes or so, time just flies, and the next thing I know, my focus and productivity are through the roof.

 

Are there limitations?

 

Getting in the zone does not come easy all the time. If I’m in the zone on Monday, the likelihood of getting back in it on Tuesday is doubtful. Our bodies need rest to recover from being in the zone. So make sure you use it wisely. If I’m lucky, I can get in the zone 3 times a month. This requires catching up on lost sleep, exercise, and a healthy diet.

 

My old sleeping patterns were staying up until 3:00 AM. They were great and were able to get a lot of work done. However, the next morning I could not function as I was sleep-deprived. Long term, that was not healthy, and I knew I had to make some changes. Since then, I’ve managed to switch to be an early bird waking up around 6:00 AM and try to get in the zone throughout the morning hours. This way, I’m in control of my sleeping patterns and health overall.

 

Conclusion

 

Getting in the zone is a fantastic way to get work done. Not only for programming but also for athletes, creatives, writers, musicians, etc… I think you get the picture. Once you experience it, there is no other feeling more satisfying than being in the zone. It is something I go after because I am more productive during those times. Have you been in the zone before?

 

Be sure to check out my other article about how to become more creative here.

Money

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

 

As I write this, we are in December of 2020, the end of what will be remembered as a bad year for everyone. A lot of people lost their jobs. Market Watch is saying about 22 million are out of work. Small to midsize businesses are losing sales as well. Retail Dive is reporting about 29 major companies are filing for bankruptcy. Retail store businesses will never be the same. I pray that everyone who needs help gets it during this time. Rumor has it hospitals are filled to capacity, but it seems empty where I am. However, my thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected. 

 

To help stay afloat financially, are you interested in learning about five side hustles that earn extra cash? If our future is working from home, we might as well get started, right? 

 

1. Create mobile apps.

 

There are two ways to create apps. One of them is by learning and coding them yourself. The other method is to hire an app developer like me to do it for you. If you have an app idea or need an app for your business, I can help you out. Contact me for more information.

 

Apple says the App Store created $519 billion last year. If that number doesn’t get you excited, I don’t know what will. Just the thought of having your app accessible to everyone around the world is a fantastic feeling. If the market likes what you have to offer, then your future is bright. The opportunity is here. You have to take action. 

 

Equipment needed to get started:

 

Creating apps for Android can be coded on a PC or Mac computer. Apple products must be coded on a Mac computer. Whatever mobile device you want to create software for, be sure you own the device to test on. The emulator is not accurate. Please try your apps on devices to confirm they work. 

 

Purchasing the latest tech equipment is an investment, and from my personal experience, my investments in Apple products have resulted in significant profits. That has not been the story for Android, unfortunately. 

 

How often do you get paid?

 

Royalties are paid out once a month from each App Store. 

 

Are there setup fees?

 

Besides needing the latest tech, each app store has a setup fee. Apple requires an annual membership fee of about $107. Google Play Store only requires a one-time fee of $25. Microsoft needed a one-time fee of $19 when I signed up for them. 

 

Which app store earns the most?

 

Apple App Store.

 

Which app store earns the least?

 

Amazon App Store.

 

How do I get started?

 

Hire an app developer just like mentioned above or start coding yourself. After you finish creating an app, open your developer account to get it published.

 

2. Start some Fiverr gigs.

 

Welcome to the gig economy. Fiverr is a service where individuals can sign up and offer to perform something of value to people worldwide, starting at $5. 

 

Click here to sign up as a seller. It’s free to set up and start selling your services.

 

How often do you get paid?

 

There is a two week wait period, and payouts can be through Paypal, check, or direct deposit.

 

3. Sell unused items on eBay.

 

Have any unused items lying around your house? Try putting them on an eBay auction and see how much you could get from them. Decluttering feels good. Not only will you earn some money but also get some positive feng shui flowing in your home. 

 

Some sellers purchase pallets full of wholesale electronics and resell them on eBay for profit. 

 

4. Open an Etsy Shop.

 

Etsy is for the crafting individuals and companies who offer artful products. Often handcrafted products are made by people who love what they do. Etsy is a great solution to open your shop. Express yourself creatively. What can be better than that?

 

5. Start a blog.

 

Starting a blog can be very lucrative if you put in the work. The way to monetize a blog can be through displaying advertisements, affiliate links, promoting your products or services, and maybe even a sponsorship. Blogging takes time to gain momentum and quality articles. I’d recommend buying your domain (.com) and a reputable web hosting company to get started. Pick a service that feels right for you, and start blogging. Just make sure whatever niche you blog about, do it with passion and post often.

 

Final thoughts

 

Having side hustles is a great way to earn some extra income. Some side hustles are more lucrative than others, but I find it is best to try them out and see which ones are right for you. I know we could all use some extra cash these days. I wish you all well during these crazy times and know we can get through this if we put in the work. 

 

Cheers!

 

 

 

Android, Google Play, and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.
Mac is a trademark of
Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.
Apple and the Apple logo are trademarks of
Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.
Light bulb

Do you wonder how to be more creative? When our job or business requires fresh ideas, and we cannot come up with anything unique, our jobs can become very stressful. How can we get out of our funk and come up with fresh ideas? Here are some methods that may help get your creativity up and running.

 

1. Take a walk in nature.

 

Sometimes all it really takes to get the juices flowing is by taking a walk. Walking has been said to improve creativity. If walking in nature is not available where you live, that’s okay, just get outdoors. 

 

If you have access to nature and can go on nature walks, I would highly recommend it. Taking walks in nature and seeing the beauty of greenery has an effect on our minds. Carolyn Gregoire, a senior writer at the Huffington Post, explains the benefits of doing such, including how it boosts creativity.

 

Taking alone walks can quiet our minds and filter ideas and thoughts that pass through. What about walking with someone else? This can help generate ideas to brainstorm with other friends. Talking out ideas is an excellent method of getting the juices flowing. Have you tried this before?

 

2. Eat blueberries.

 

This may not be known to some, but eating blueberries helps us to be more creative. I include blueberries in my daily smoothies. I didn’t notice any difference until after taking a break from smoothies for a few weeks to starting up consuming them again on my daily routines. It really does make a difference. Blueberries have antioxidants that help our brain improve memory and focus. Nothing can be more important than enhancing our ability to focus.

 

3. Listen to binaural beats.

 

Binaural beats are used today in many forms. Such uses help people in sports, reduce anxiety, help with pain management, help focus, become more productive, and increase creativity. Binaural beats can be used for almost anything, and the best part is they are freely available to us all online. All it takes is a simple YouTube search. 

 

Learn more about how binaural beats work here.

 

4. Get plenty of rest.

 

How many hours did you sleep last night? Was it at least 8 hours? According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, “In America, 70% of adults report that they obtain insufficient sleep at least one night a month, and 11% report insufficient sleep every night.” Getting proper sleep has to be one of the top priorities. Our ability to be productive in the days ahead depends on if we get adequate rest or not. Our body is a machine. If we do not get proper sleep and proper food, our body cannot function as intended. How would you expect to get anything done if you don’t take care of the body? Take care of your body, and it will take care of you. When your body is rested, creativity will come.

 

5. Exercise, get your energies up.

 

When was the last time you exercised? Get up and get moving! What is the link between exercise and creativity? After we have a good workout, our body releases feel-good hormones. We also feel energized and our confidence is through the roof. This positive energy, as a result of working out, makes our body perfect for being creative. 

 

6. Meditate to clear your mind.

 

Sitting down in a comfortable position. The room is quiet, soft music playing in the background, eyes closed. 30 minutes have passed by. You feel bliss. Does this sound familiar? If conditions are just right, meditation can feel amazing. Can meditation make us more creative? I believe so. The perfect formula in meditation is focusing on our thoughts and using our brain to think. Over time this is a great technique that helps us become more aware and can use tactics to brainstorm new ideas. 

 

Meditation helps us slow down, clear out the clutter in our minds, and be open to new ideas. Ideas may be even external from us. This is how meditation can help. Have you experienced this before? Have you received insight during a meditation session?

 

Conclusion

 

Coming up with creative ideas can seem impossible at times. It is as if our creative abilities just dry up. Luckily there are ways we can go about to get that spark going again. We went over the benefits of walking in nature and how it can do more than just spark our creative side. Eating blueberries are a great way to help our brain function. Listen to binaural beats contribute quite effectively. Ensuring we meet proper rest for optimal performance. Exercise to get our body moving, joints free, and confidence high. Last but not least, meditation. Meditate to clear the mind, flex our thinking abilities, be open to new ideas, and feel amazing while doing it. 

15%

When talking amongst colleagues about the App Business and the requirements for such an industry, I always receive the same response after informing them about the 30% commission fees. Everyone says that is too high. I originally started doing this as a hobby but soon after turned into a passion. I do agree that the commission rate is high; however, handling everything on the store backend makes it worth it, in my opinion. That is unless YOU have a better solution to manage it all? If so, I’d love to hear it, contact me.

 

Is an App Store commission worth it for indie app developers?

 

I believe so, yes. The reason being is by paying the commission, developers will receive the following:

 

  • Developers don’t have to worry about the App Store being online 100% to handle millions of users.
  • Protect against attacks on the website.
  • Sale and subscription transactions.
  • Refunds.
  • Software licenses.
  • Protecting apps from being pirated.
  • Having an ecosystem of users willing to try new apps.
  • Etc…  

 

These App Stores, not just Apple, help indie developers get off the ground. The more established developers have options to self-publish on their own website, do both, or just stick to only being on the App Store. 

 

Fornite vs. Apple Fiasco

 

Keeping up with all the commotion about everyone being against Apple is interesting. To be clear, I do not associate with any of them. The business world isn’t all rainbows and sunshine, my friend. Sometimes we just have to roll with the punches. That is if you want to stay in the game.

 

The Fortnite vs. Apple legal battles make me question why Epic individuals would allow such a fatal move to knowingly violate the contract with Apple and Google Play Store? What did they expect would happen? In this scenario, I agree with Apple. Apple says Epic’s problems “Entirely self-inflicted”. 🍿  

 

App Store Small Business Program

 

Apple has recently introduced an “App Store Small Business Program” that will cut down app sale commissions for developers from 30% down to 15%. This is only available to those who earn less than 1 million dollars per year. 

 

The deadline to enroll in this program is December 18, 2020

 

This year has been exciting for app developers as Apple introduced Apple Silicon Mac’s and now offers lower commission rates that begin January 1, 2021. 

 

Drawbacks of the program

 

One major con of being in this program is developers are not allowed to transfer apps to another account. This is common for developers who acquire other app companies.

 

Conclusion

 

The year 2020 started off bad. I had so much hope for it but it caught us all off guard. I do not think there is anyone on earth that was not affected by this. On the bright side app developers can look forward to 2021 with Apple’s lowered commission rates and creating software for the Apple Silicon. 

 

Now we just need Google Play Store, Microsoft, and Amazon App Store to follow suit with lowered commission rates. 

Mac mini

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

 

The brand new Mac mini that is packing the M1 (Apple Silicon) chip has finally arrived. I have to admit, I was very skeptical about this thing’s performance before placing the order. I have only owned 2 Mac computers previously; one was an iMac (21.5-inch, Late 2013) and the other Macbook Pro (13-inch, Early 2015) with 2.7 GHz Dual-Core Intel i5 CPU. The iMac had a hybrid fusion hard drive, and man, that was slow. Reminded me of the dial-up internet days. So, when I upgraded to the MacBook Pro, I made sure it had a solid-state drive (SSD). I’m glad I paid extra for that SSD. Who knew that would be a massive difference in accessing data. Fortunately, the base model for the Mac mini includes SSD.

 

Mac mini Specs:

 

  • M1 (Apple Silicon). 
  • 8GB unified memory.
  • 256GB SSD.
  • Ethernet.
  • 2 USB-C / thunderbolt ports. 
  • 1 HDMI port.
  • 2 USB ports.
  • 3.5 headphone jack.
  • Built-in Speaker.

 

If you are worried if 256GB is enough like I was before placing the order, yes, it is plenty for most cases. When in doubt, external hard drives can always be utilized. I have about 159 GB free of storage after everything is setup. The 8 GB of memory seems plenty, just as my previous experience with the iMac and MacBook Pro. The built-in speaker is handy, but I wouldn’t rely on it when playing music as it does not sound good at all.  

 

List of my Mac mini accessories (for my curious readers)

 

 

Any issues running Intel-based software?

 

So far, I have not had any issues. Apple really did a great job ensuring the soon to be obsolete Intel works on the M1 chip. 

 

This may be a different story for gamers. However, for my purposes, it works beyond expectations. Microsoft Word, Android Studio, security apps, etc…

 

How does the M1 compare to the Intel chip?

 

The bootup and shutdown times are almost instant. You can think of it much like an iOS or iPad booting up. It amazes me every time. The Mac Benchmarks by GeekBench shows M1 outperforming the very expensive $5,999.00 iMac Pro and all other Mac Intel models. After owning the Mac mini for a couple of days now, I can tell you that it is definitely faster. It makes my MacBook Pro feel like an obsolete POS that keeps overheating and has battery charge issues. The Mac mini doesn’t heat up when using xCode, Safari with several tabs open, and playing YouTube videos for hours. It also doesn’t make any noise.

 

Should you upgrade to a Mac powered with Apple Silicon?

 

After explaining the significant differences, it really is a no brainer. I’m all into the latest tech, so you bet I can be a bit bias here. There is something that should be considered. Our Macs that run Intel could lose some value as more Apple Silicon models become available. However, this may seem obvious to some, but it is also an excellent reminder to those unaware. Upgrade and sell before the mainstream does.

 

If we dive deeper to compare this. Would consumers continue to buy Intel models knowing a base Mac mini using Apple Silicon is cheaper and superior? Would anyone be willing to pay a premium price for such a product?

 

Final thoughts

 

My experience with the new Mac mini has been great. I have no regrets. I love the performance this little computer has. It is definitely faster and helps me become more productive in my daily routines.

 

I can’t wait to see how a MacBook Pro or an iMac rocking the Apple Silicon will perform for 2021. 

 

What are your thoughts?