As you all might know, Apple released Lion, the latest version of OS X.
So, have fun!
On January 6th 2011 Apple opened the Mac App Store. This is a store directly integrated into Mac OS X so that users can easily buy and install third party software. Every software in that store has to go through a review process at Apple to keep the quality of the available Apps high. Regarding the huge preceding success of the iPhone App Store I knew that the Mac App Store most probably would also be very successful and I wanted to be part of it. So I submitted iVolume early to Apple. Unfortunately it did not went through the review process as fast as expected and so I missed the grand opening. But finally, a week later, iVolume is available on the Mac App Store, hooray!
So every Mac OS X user that wants to buy iVolume can now decide if he still wants to go the classical way of downloading and installing the demo version of iVolume and then doing a purchase on the online web store linked from the iVolume homepage … or if he wants to go the easier route and do a one-click-purchase-download-install from the Mac App Store. Here is the link to iVolume on the Mac App Store:
Please note that you have to remove the demo version of iVolume from your hard disk before attempting to buy iVolume on the Mac App Store. Because if you have the demo version installed, the Mac App Store thinks you have already purchased it and just shows an “Installed” button instead of a “Buy” button. Don’t worry, if you trash the iVolume application all your settings and analyzation results will still be there and carried over to the Mac App Store version of iVolume.
Existing users may remember that ugly ‘No iTunNORM Tag’ warning from the past. While there were ways to fix that problem, it was a pretty complicated and annoying procedure. As of iVolume 3.5 you can confidently forget everything you know about that problem! iVolume “just works” now, and that’s a huge benefit. Now it can be used by anyone without any specific knowledge and without ever running into the “No Tag” problem again.
But we did not stop at implementing this smart workaround for the Tag problem. We also fixed many other problems that could have happened. Especially the “File Not Found” error should be reduced to a minimum now. iVolume is now smart enough to ask iTunes for the file path for a track whenever it could not find it.
It was never so easy and hassle-free to adjust the volume levels of your complete iTunes library.
Now we have to get some sleep, I think. 😉
Yesterday (09/09/09, by the way) Apple released iTunes 9. Unfortunately it has a nasty bug that prevents iVolume from analyzing new songs that are added to the iTunes library in most cases.
We put highest priority on this issue. All other projects have been interrupted in order to restore full compatibility with iTunes 9 as soon as possible. We already found a solution and are currently busy implementing it. Things look good so far.
So please be patient, a new version of iVolume will be released very soon.
Update: The problem is solved. Please download and install the latest version of iVolume.
Sahara is a challenging puzzle game where you have to guide a camel through a labyrinth in the desert. If you like it, you can purchase it in the App Store.
I am very happy about that release of my first iPhone app. It was very exciting and fun to do all those things like registering as iPhone Application Developer, signing all the contracts, exploring the iPhone SDK, developing the game e.g. programming an algorithm to find the shortest way through the maze, implementing animations, doing all the graphics and sounds, preparing my web site and finally submitting the application to Apple. It went through the review process in just about two days without any problems. It seems I did everything alright. 😉
To give you some insight to the graphical development process of Sahara, here is an example how the camel was born:
At the left is a rough pencil drawing of the camel how it was in my head. I did about five to ten drawings of that style or so. It was not exactly how I thought it should look like, but this one was pretty close. Then I scanned the drawing and did the final artwork directly on my Mac with vector graphics. I put the scan of the draft drawing underneath the image with 50% transparency as orientation. As you can see, I did a lot of corrections especially to the head of the camel. The funny eyes are bigger, the shape of the head is different, the ears are smaller and better aligned and so on. Although I own a Wacom tablet, I did all the graphics with my mouse, because I did no real “drawing”: I added a bunch of bezier paths for each stroke and then I corrected the points and anchors until I was satisfied with the result. Note that I did not have a pencil drawing for the skeleton; I just used the final camel as orientation underneath and drew the bones directly on the computer as vector graphics onto it.
After doing years of “just coding and coding” I really enjoyed doing this artistic work. Although in my opinion developing software is also some sort of artistic work, but I mean artistic in a graphical manner here. I did a lot of drawing in my childhood, but once I got my first computer it was displaced by programming so far. I am happy that I can combine both now.
Finally some more studies used for developing the camel for the game:
This is great news. Really great news.
At their Macworld 2009 keynote Apple announced that the iTunes Store will become DRM-free. This sounds a bit unspectacular first, but I think this is a revolution. Finally the music labels understood that people don’t want to be restricted in the use of their purchased songs. With DRM you can’t do everything with your purchased songs that you want. Sure, you can play your purchased song … at least on the computer where you’ve bought it. 😉 But as soon as you want to play it anywhere else, things start to get complicated. You may have to authorize other computers. You may be limited to specific MP3 players. Your standalone player or audio streaming solution may not be supported. And so on. Basically you have some sort of copy protection, so the samples of the song can not be replicated (or read) by third party software. And this opens a wide range of other problems one might not think of first: You can not use your songs in applications (or other solutions) that want to do something with the audio information of your song that’s different from “just playing”. E.g. audio or movie editors. Or DJ software that does some “special playing” like scratching and mixing. And finally such great applications like iVolume that tries to enhance your music just won’t work with copy protected songs. That’s because these applications need to read out the raw sample data from the audio files to do their work, e.g. analyze the loudness in case of iVolume. But that’s not possible for copy protected songs. If it would be possible to read the raw sample data … then it simply won’t be a copy protection anymore! Because any application could just take the samples and export them to another non-copy-protected audio file.
So, removing the DRM from iTunes is really great news for all iVolume users! Finally all songs can be adjusted by iVolume to the perfect level. Apple offers the possibility to update already purchased songs with DRM to the DRM-free and higher quality “iTunes Plus” version at 30 Cent per song.
I think it’s time to start a blog.
In this first blog entry I’ll introduce myself and reveal some internals. Don’t worry, the next blog entries will be about other stuff, like things that I find interesting, news and background information about my products, maybe some technical articles about programming, some fun stuff etc.
My name is Manfred Schwind, I am living in Germany and I started mani.de long time ago in the year 1998. While still going to college at that time I’ve done a lot of programming in my spare time for the Atari ST (anyone still knows jinnee?) and later for the Macintosh. My biggest project so far is iVolume, a very successful software to adjust the volume of your iTunes songs. Version 3 of iVolume was rewritten from scratch and for the first time it’s also available for Windows. It has some interesting internals like a fully cross-platform and heavily multi-threaded backend written in C++ and just a very “thin” GUI layer that is the only thing written twice specifically for Mac OS X (written in Cocoa) and for Windows. Maybe I should write one or more blog entries about these things soon. 😉 The Windows specific parts of iVolume were done by Christian Lier who’s currently also working for Enabling Labs.
From 2004 to 2008 I worked at equinux as Mac OS X Software Developer. There I was lead developer of iSale, an eBay selling application that has won two Apple Design Awards (, ). I also worked on other projects, e.g. major parts of the GUI of VPN Tracker 5 and CoverScout 3.
It was a very interesting and fulfilling time at equinux, but at the end of 2008 I decided to become independent again and do my own stuff. I have never had the heart to give up my private projects, but having two jobs and a family with two kids is simply too much for one person in the long run, so I had to decide for one job. It was not an easy decision, because I had a great time at equinux; it’s a young team of nice people all doing great jobs and we had a lot of fun. But at the end I preferred to do my own things and I’m very happy with that so far.
So currently I am working on new projects, e.g. for the iPhone, and there are some great things coming out soon.
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