Tag Archives: wii

Wii Transfer 2.7.2

And now for something completely different. I released a bug fix update to “Wii Transfer”:http://www.riverfold.com/software/wiitransfer/ last night, the first in over a year. It doesn’t have some of the bigger things I’d like to finish for the app, but it does have an important bug fix to Mii rendering.

At some point in a recent update to Safari or Mac OS X, Miis started appearing blank in Wii Transfer. These are rendered in an offscreen window using Flash, then saved as thumbnails in Wii Transfer with the option to export a JPEG. The fix — for reasons I’m still not clear on — was to switch to using NSBitmapImageRep’s cacheDisplayInRect instead of initWithFocusedViewRect. Needless to say, customers were frustrated that this was no longer working, and I’m sorry I didn’t take care of the problem more quickly.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the future of Wii Transfer and its companion “@wii”:http://twitter.com/wii Twitter account. This little Mac app is overdue for a rename and refocused feature set.

Twitter @wii

Last week my “@wii”:http://twitter.com/wii account on Twitter passed 3000 followers and seems to finally be growing strong after a year of neglect. I now try to post once every couple days with Nintendo news, and I’ll eventually throw in a tweet on new Wii Transfer updates. That was my evil plan from the beginning: have some fun with the account but also use it to build an audience and promote my own projects.

I view @wii as a gift. I don’t know how long it will be under my control. As Twitter continues to go mainstream, eventually I expect Nintendo will want my little 3-character Twitter name for themselves, and I might just be glad to hand it off. Twitter works best with a personal voice, and I’ve already all but closed some of my secondary accounts.

I’m more conflicted about what to do with the “Wii Friend Codes site”:http://wiitransfer.com/codes/. At one time I imagined it as a full Riverfold product, with integrated Mac and iPhone apps, but now I find that I lack the passion to really take it to new places. And to be honest, it works as is.

The Wii fad, 2 years later

Video game console sales numbers for November are in. Two years after the Nintendo Wii was introduced — you know, the console that was derided as a gimmick, a fad, just a faster GameCube — the little white console still outsells the Xbox 360 over 2 to 1. It outsells the PS3 over 4 to 1. (“Here’s a 4cr post”:http://www.4colorrebellion.com/archives/2008/12/12/wii-buries-the-competition-in-november/ with official numbers.)

The doubters were so wrong about this one. The fans and industry experts who were quick to sell Nintendo short kept waiting for a fail that never happened. If you go into a Best Buy right now the video game section is completely owned by the Wii and DS.

Not everyone can take a risk and have it pay off so well, but it’s at least important to acknowledge that conventional wisdom and focus groups (what “everyone” knows) would have doomed Nintendo. The trick is being able to tell when you’ve got an idea that is truly special, and not just something you are clinging on to out of a stubbornness to be different.

In related news, I imported a “Nintendo DSi”:http://www.nintendo.co.jp/ds/series/dsi/index.html from Japan last month and it’s a great rev to the portable system. It would be even better if I could read Japanese.

Wii friend codes from Twitter

As most Nintendo Wii owners know by now, Mario Kart for Wii shipped last week. I put together yet another friend code database to track and share codes, but this one is unique because it builds on Twitter. Just follow “@wii”:http://twitter.com/wii and send your friend code in a reply. No registration, no data entry. All your friends on Twitter who also use the system will automatically be linked, so you can quickly get a view of which friend codes to add. It’s also a great way to discover new Twitter users.

I’m pretty happy with how the implementation has worked out. It’s build on essentially three background scripts:

  • Parsing replies every minute looking for the friend code pattern (1234-1234-1234 for game codes, with dashes or spaces).

  • Taking queued users and pulling everyone they are following into the database.

  • Generating and caching the RSS feed for recently tweeted friend codes.

The system currently only pulls the first 300 followers, but it’s running smoothly enough that I will bump that up to 500 this week. Over 150 people are currently using it, and the database has about 10,000 records to keep track of friends. I feel like it’s architected well enough to grow significantly from here, so I may do some casual promotion of the service this week.

If you own a Wii and use Twitter, “give it a try”:http://wiitransfer.com/codes/. If you have any questions or feature requests, please send me an email or reply on Twitter. Enjoy!

Wii Transfer serial numbers

The search phrase “wii transfer serial numbers” (or “wii transfer serials”) is consistently one of the top referrers from Google to this blog, usually pointing to “my post about the first 75 days”:http://www.manton.org/2007/02/first_75_days.html. I figure I get enough traffic that I should dedicate a page to this. (I’m the developer, by the way.)

Here are the best ways to get Wii Transfer:

  • “Buy a copy”:http://www.riverfold.com/software/wiitransfer/! Just $19. Simple checkout with PayPal and you’ll get an automatic email within minutes.

  • Write a review for a blog or magazine. “Email me”:mailto:support@riverfold.com first and I’ll give you a full license, even if it’s just your personal blog.

  • Become a “beta tester”:http://www.riverfold.com/software/wiitransfer/beta/. From time to time, I need people to test the latest in-progress features. Free copy if you send any useful feedback on a beta.

Thanks for your support! I hope one of these options appeals to you.

MacLife write-up and Wii Transfer beta

MacLife Wii Transfer has a full-page mini-tutorial in the May edition of “MacLife magazine”:http://www.maclife.com/, as part of a section on connecting your Mac to video game consoles. I finally “picked up a copy”:http://twitter.com/manton/statuses/792260641 last night. It was certainly a nice surprise and seems to have brought a small increase in sales.

I’ve also been wrapping up the next version of Wii Transfer, which hopefully smoothes over most of the rough spots in the current release. After sending beta copies to a few customers, I’m opening up a “new forums section”:http://www.riverfold.com/forums/ as an experiment in getting early builds out without a more formal public beta. (It’s not linked from the main site yet, but will be soon.) Every developer handles betas in a different way, but I like the balance Jesse at “Hog Bay Software”:http://www.hogbaysoftware.com/ has achieved between his released software page and the early builds and developer notes in the forums section, for those customers willing to dig a little bit below the surface.

Wrapping up the Wii Giveaway

Sending away second Wii After sitting on a shelf in my office for 2 months, unopened and unloved, I finally shipped off the Nintendo Wii today to the lucky winner. I was initially worried because he didn’t respond until well into the second day after I notified him, but he was pretty excited (“You’ve made my holiday”) and I’m glad it could ship out before Christmas. The picture here is in the car before I went into the UPS store to fill the box with peanuts.

The promotion took a surprising amount of effort, but it was fun and definitely worthwhile. There were a total of 2447 unique submissions (1925 for the email form, and 522 from Twitter). Of those, over 1/3 agreed to sign up for my annual Riverfold Software newsletter. I consider that alone a success, although until I look at the stats more closely it’s not clear what percentage of potential-customers are actually using Macs. My “Wii Twitter account”:http://twitter.com/wii also doubled to about 300 followers.

Although sales were initially flat, both “TUAW”:http://www.tuaw.com/2007/12/05/wii-transfer-maker-giving-away-a-wii/ and “Ars Technica”:http://arstechnica.com/journals/apple.ars/2007/12/06/win-a-wii-to-go-with-your-wii-transfer-for-mac ran nice stories on the promotion. I also “wrote a press release”:http://riverfold.com/software/wiitransfer/press/giveaway.html, with the idea of hitting some of the bigger gaming sites for the second week of the contest. In the end I decided not to, because I wanted to focus on Mac users, and because frankly there were plenty of submissions and I was burned out on the process.

The contest easily paid for itself, but the extra sales really weren’t that significant. I have a database that tracks referrers through to the actual purchase, so I noticed an increase of only about 10-20 copies out of the 100 sales for the month so far. Part of that is no doubt the catch-22 of giving away hardware that is required for your software product, but I know that long-term there will be a benefit to the wider exposure.

Mistakes? I should have made the whole promotion last just a day or two, and hyped it before launching instead. I also should have required that Twitter users follow Wii before entering, which would have boosted those followers and also greatly simplified tracking submissions (replies were spread over 3 RSS feeds and 33 iChat log transcripts). Relatively minor complaints, though, overall.

To everyone who provided feedback on the idea, thanks. Maybe next year I’ll implement some of the more interesting promotion ideas I heard.

Holiday Wii Giveaway and Twitter

A few months ago I was in Target and they had some Wiis in stock, so on an impulse I bought one. I’ve owned a Wii since launch day, but I had this idea to give one away for Christmas as an experiment to help promote Wii Transfer. I sat on the idea for a while, listened to feedback from others, and finally “rolled it out this morning”:http://www.riverfold.com/software/wiitransfer/giveaway/ with two methods to enter: web form (with field to notify a friend about the giveaway) and via Twitter (by sending a reply to @wii).

Unfortunately there was a major snag with the Twitter idea. It turns out that @wii replies won’t show up in my Replies tab (or RSS feed) in Twitter unless the user posting the tweet is already following “twitter.com/wii”:http://twitter.com/wii. I now regret not making that a requirement, but I also know that it would have hurt the simplicity of entering via Twitter.

So what’s the solution? For now, a combination of things. I am now tracking every tweet that contains “wii” (try it, there are some fun ones), which I will aggregate with the standard replies as well as results from a search on “Terraminds”:http://terraminds.com/twitter/ to fill in any of the tweets I missed. It’s all a bit cumbersome because the tracking results come through IM (luckily iChat transcripts are XML now).

It feels very fragile, but hopefully I won’t miss any entries. There’s no cost to submitting multiple times, so consider sending another @wii tweet next week or entering with the web form to guarantee you’re in the drawing. If in doubt, re-read the “last line on the fine print”:http://www.riverfold.com/software/wiitransfer/giveaway/.

Wii Transfer 2.5.2 and Leopard

Happy Halloween! “Wii Transfer 2.5.2”:http://www.riverfold.com/software/wiitransfer/ is now available. This is probably one of the most difficult bug fix releases I’ve done. Full changes are in “the release notes”:http://www.riverfold.com/software/wiitransfer/releasenotes/, but the biggest stuff includes fixed Leopard UI glitches and a new 2-pass encoding that should result in much more consistent movie streaming quality. Along the way I touched most of the corners of the product, including many hours of trial-and-error debugging the Flash FLV player component.

While testing Wii Transfer on my TV the other day I had a moment to reflect on how this product has evolved. What started as a one-weekend hack has grown into something quite a bit more complex. It has a few rough edges, sure, but I’m proud of this little app and how I’ve been able to put a simple UI on all these different technologies (embedded web server, HTML/JavaScript/Flash UI, MP3 and FLV conversion, iLife integration, etc). I have a few new features planned and in various stages of development, but I think the just-released 2.5.2 is going to start a trend of refinement; there’s a lot I could do to improve the movie conversion and streaming experience before introducing anything radically new.

So, Leopard. I had originally planned to just wipe my old Leopard seed partition on the MacBook and test the GM, but at the last minute I dove full in and did an upgrade install on my primary machine, the Mac Pro. I have nightly SuperDuper clones just in case, but the upgrade was completely smooth. It’s a great OS foundation and I can’t wait to see what other developers have been working on.

Wii Transfer 2.5

This morning I finally rolled out “version 2.5 of Wii Transfer”:http://www.riverfold.com/software/wiitransfer/, the most significant release of the product yet. It probably deserved a 3.0 label slapped on it, but I like how all the 2.x releases revolve around the sharing features (sending movies, music, and pictures to the Wii via the Opera browser). Besides, I have a special set of entirely new stuff planned for 3.0.

So what’s new? Movie streaming is the big one. You can now drag and drop movie files to convert to Flash Video format, which Wii Transfer’s web server will happily stream up to your Wii. It works surprisingly well considering the Wii has such limited memory and no hard drive. Last night I even tested with feature-length movies.

Other new features include background music for picture slideshows (both MP3 and AAC) and bookmark sharing, so that you can browse your Safari or Firefox bookmarks on your Wii to easily visit those sites. The “release notes”:http://www.riverfold.com/software/wiitransfer/releasenotes/ page has more of the details.

I’ve also bumped the price up to $19, where I expect it to stay for some time. One way I like to think about the price of Wii Transfer is in relation to another common purchase from Wii owners: games. It’s still less than half the price of a new Wii game.

Special thanks to the beta testers who provided feedback. There are still a number of things about movie sharing that I’d like to polish up, so additional minor updates are likely. I often use the “Wii account on Twitter”:http://twitter.com/wii to post these and other announcements.

The /Applications social network

Brent Simmons, from a “TUAW interview”:http://www.tuaw.com/2007/06/05/5-questions-with-brent-simmons-creator-of-netnewswire/:

“One of the things I love about being a Mac developer is getting to meet the folks who make the apps I use. In a way, my /Applications folder is also my social network. Which is cool.”

I never thought about it that way, but it’s definitely a great aspect of the Mac developer community. I hope to add a few more people to my /Applications social network next week at WWDC.

I’ve been to a bunch of WWDCs now, but I’m particularly excited this year because it will be the first time I’ve attended as representing both a “large-ish company”:http://www.vitalsource.com/ and an “independent one-man shop”:http://www.riverfold.com/.

I will be carrying VitalSource business cards in my wallet, but I also hope to have a printed batch of Wii Transfer serial numbers to hand out. I know a lot of Mac developers have a Nintendo Wii and it’s a shame I haven’t given out more copies. If you have a Wii and see me (I look “something like this”:http://www.manton.org/me/), please get my attention so that I can correct this oversight.

WiiTransfer.com

After I “blogged last month”:http://www.manton.org/2007/01/i_hate_domains.html about the very small number of domain names I own, I got some good feedback from people I respect. They basically said: “You’re an idiot. Domain names are cheap.”

And the more I thought about it, the more they were right. So last week I made an offer to buy the wiitransfer.com domain from its current owner, and after just about 48 hours I had the domain and was updating Wii Transfer to use it. Now all registered users can use the simpler bookmark URL wiitransfer.com/username to point to their shared music.

I’m also finally rolling out a bug fix update tonight (version 2.2.1, “available here”:http://www.riverfold.com/software/wiitransfer/). The most important change is that some MP3s that would not play will now work. Some customers never saw this, but for some people a large percentage of their music library was unusable. It turned out to be that certain kinds of embedded cover album artwork in the MP3 would break the Flash player on the Wii. The work-around I used is to load the MP3 into memory and clear all its ID3 tags before sending it over the wire.

It feels good to be working on Wii Transfer again. The next version is already underway and should make a lot of people happy.

First 75 days of Wii Transfer

In the tradition of other independent Mac developers such as “Mike Zornek”:http://clickablebliss.com/blog/2007/01/08/billable_the_first_100_days/, “Daniel Jalkut”:http://www.red-sweater.com/blog/191/lawful-prey, and “Gus Mueller”:http://www.gusmueller.com/blog/archives/2005/12/25.html, I’m going to share some sales information from the first 75 days of Wii Transfer.

The following chart shows daily sales (in units sold) for each day. I’ve also highlighted important milestones so you can see what affect they had on sales, such as shipping 2.0 (which brought many links) and increasing the price (from $9 to $14, which brought my first 2.0 day of no sales at all). Finally, there are a few spots where I show the average number of visitors.

Sales chart

(As an aside, I created this chart in Keynote. I love software that is simple and flexible enough to be used for purposes outside its original developer’s intentions. I wrote “more on this subject back in early 2006”:http://www.manton.org/2006/01/limitations_in_toys.html.)

It’s difficult to tell, but the numbers on the right side are on average a little bit higher than the left. Not by much though. Sales just trickle in again right now (a few a day).

So what does it all mean? Here is the basic take-away: Sales are much better than I thought they would be, but not nearly enough to live off of. That’s okay, because I happen to love “my day job”:http://www.vitalsource.com/ (also writing Mac software). However, I can definitely see how it would be possible to do this full time, with some real marketing and a collection of several additional applications. I have done zero marketing for Wii Transfer except listing it on MacUpdate, VersionTracker, and Apple’s download site (where it was featured in the video section).

As you can see, there was a big spike in sales when 2.0 was released. This is a direct result of links from Mac sites like The Unofficial Apple Weblog and Daring Fireball, and gaming sites like Jostiq and others. When traffic goes up, sales go up. This opened my eyes because it really is all about getting your app in front of other users. “As I blogged about previously”:http://www.manton.org/2007/01/wii_transfer_takes.html, I think I also missed some sales opportunities during this period because 2.0 was not very stable.

Other interesting stats: The conversion rate is between 2% and 5%. For every 100 downloads, a few people decide to purchase it. I think many active users probably end up paying for it. Instead of a trial demo period, some features are just crippled, and it isn’t very usable day-to-day without unlocking the full feature set (for example, with music sharing to the Wii, you can only play one song at a time — no iTunes playlists or shuffle).

There are at least a few pirates too. I’m not too worried about them because “you can’t stop pirating”:http://wilshipley.com/blog/2007/02/piracy-reduction-can-be-source-of.html, and most people are honest. One customer was even nice enough to tell me about a pirated serial number he found.

To everyone who purchased Wii Transfer, thanks! When I built 1.0, I wasn’t sure if I would work on it again. Now, several versions later at 2.2, I have a clear roadmap of features (and bugs!) to keep me busy.

Customer support

One of the most interesting (and difficult) parts of running an independent software business is responding to support email. It is very time-consuming and often more frustrating than writing code because the solutions can be illusive. You want to help the customer, but it’s not always obvious how.

Two blog posts in the last week take entirely different approaches to customer support. The first is from Ryan Carson, who is well known for DropSend and The Future of Web Apps conference. Here’s a snippet from his response to a customer:

I am now marking your email address as spam and your communication will no longer get through. If you don’t want to use our service any more, please cancel your account.

I was relieved to read the comments, which are more sane. I think Ryan made a mistake in how he dealt with the customer, and wasted a bunch of time in the process. Adding a customer to your spam filter? Yikes. I would have refunded the customer their $5 immediately.

(I actually like a lot of what Ryan writes and the events he puts on, but lately I find myself noticing the differences. As another example, his post about outsourcing programming work to Russia left me puzzled.)

Joel Spolsky also wrote an essay on support, and it’s just about perfect. I especially like his section on memorizing awkward phrases:

It’s completely natural to have trouble saying “It’s my fault.” That’s human. But those three words are going to make your angry customers much happier. So you’re going to have to say them. And you’re going to have to sound like you mean it.

For almost every support email I get, I start by responding like this:

Hi Bob, Thanks for purchasing Wii Transfer. I’m sorry to hear it was not working correctly for you.

This does three things right away that I think are important:

  • Greet the person by their name. Kind of like making eye contact. And it’s respectful without being overly formal.

  • Thank them for using the product. If they haven’t bought it yet, replace “purchasing” with “trying.”

  • Apologize that the software gave them trouble. This is mostly equivalent to Joel’s “it’s my fault” phrase.

Although I could probably respond faster by using some macro shortcuts that do this for me, I actually type this out every time, varying it slightly as is appropriate for the question. I then move on to the actual solution or follow-up question about their issue.

This is more than just trying to be nice to people. As someone in the comments to Ryan Carson’s post said: you need to show the customer that you are on their side. Going negative demonstrates that you care about receiving their money but not actually building something useful that makes their life easier.

Here’s a portion of 37signals take on being on the customers side, from Getting Real:

At 37signals, all of our support emails are answered personally by the people who actually build the product. Why? First off, it provides better support for customers. They’re getting a response straight from the brain of someone who built the app. Also, it keeps us in touch with the people who use our products and the problems they’re encountering. When they’re frustrated, we’re frustrated. We can say, “I feel your pain” and actually mean it.

Most people who buy Mac software from independent developers know that it’s only 1-5 people behind the company. We can’t compete with the Microsofts and Adobes of the world on application size, but we can compete on quality customer service. Being small is a competitive advantage.

I’ve exchanged at least a couple hundred emails in the last few months with customers or potential customers. (I don’t actually distinguish between users who have bought the product or who are just trying it out. They all get the same level of support.) Have I handled each one perfectly? Probably not. There are a few people who are still experiencing problems. But my hope is that just writing this blog post will serve as a guide and reminder of why taking support seriously is worth it.

Reflecting on a beta release and server testing

Wii Transfer 2.2 is taking longer to get ready than I had planned, so I’ve decided to post a public beta while the last pieces are polished up. You can “grab it from the news section”:http://www.riverfold.com/software/wiitransfer/ of the Riverfold site (lower right). It is very close to being done, but giant chunks of code have been completely rewritten. I hope the extra testing will help make 2.2 an extremely solid release, and get some of the new features in the hands of users as soon as possible.

So what’s new in 2.2? iTunes playlists and several new preferences to control picture sharing top the list, but there are at least a dozen changes underneath the hood.

The web server built into Wii Transfer has seen some work in particular. Music browsing now uses the iTunes Music Library.xml file for everything rather than look at directory contents, and you can change the port number on the fly without restarting Wii Transfer if there is a conflict with any other applications.

I’ve also added reflections to the album cover art! You can see a “screenshot here”:http://www.manton.org/images/2007/wii_transfer_cover.jpg and another one of “the collage for playlists here”:http://www.manton.org/images/2007/wii_transfer_collage.jpg (these are from Safari, but it looks mostly the same on the Wii). This was really fun to do, but unfortunately it somehow introduced a subtle double-release bug that I spent hours fixing. It would only happen if the album art could not be found in iTunes and while multiple connections were hitting the server (i.e. it was ultimately a threading issue), and maybe only every dozen requests.

I tracked it down by using ab (Apache Bench), pointed at Wii Transfer. I had a shell script with a bunch of lines that looked like:

ab -n 200 -c 4 "http://localhost:9000/m/Beatles.cover

This URL asks Wii Transfer to grab any album art from iTunes for The Beatles, apply the reflection and return the JPEG data. It is flexible because you can send it any search strings. Other examples might be: Evanescence%20Door.cover or Zoo%20Station.cover. I was a little surprised that my little server was actually pumping out pages fairly quickly considering all the AppleScript and Quartz stuff going on. 10-20 requests per second isn’t much for a real web application, but for an app that is by definition single-user, it’s perfect.

The reflection code was made even easier by “BHReflectedImage”:http://bithaus.com/2006/11/05/nsimage-reflection/, which I modified to work with black backgrounds and then wrapped up in other helper methods to composite the cover and reflection together. When I first ran across this code I didn’t even notice it was written by Jeff Ganyard, who I’ve known for years and still run into at WWDC. Thanks Jeff! This goes in the about box credits with a bunch of other mentions. There is a really active Mac developer community that contributes source pretty freely, and I hope to add a few things to that collection one of these day as well.

I hate domains

There is a story behind the name “Riverfold”:http://www.riverfold.com/, but it’s probably not a very good one and I won’t go on a tangent by telling it here. What I will say is that I hate domain names.

Maybe it’s because I remember when domain names used to be free (I do), or maybe it’s because I get some thrill out of typing in IP addresses (I don’t), or maybe it’s because I think domains should last forever, like a printed book in wide circulation. But in any case I decided not to register WiiTransfer.com when I first named the product. Five days after announcing and shipping 1.0, someone else registered the domain, for their own presumably evil purposes.

I’ve owned just a handful of domains over the years. During the dot-com days I registered MyEdit.com and started building a web-based note filing system (sort of like “Stikkit”:http://stikkit.com/, but not as good). Then there were the family web site and related domains.

I let all of them expire, except manton.org. I kept riverfold.com for “everything else”, and I’m pretty comfortable with the simplicity of that decision right now. It was probably foolish to pass up the domain for my own product. But how many people type in photoshop.com to go anywhere? No one who matters.

There is a thread on the MacSB mailing list about the rise of product-oriented web sites (the “DiscoApp.com”:http://www.discoapp.com/’s of this new era of glitzy Mac shareware), and it really made me second-guess my decision to not register everything. But at the end of the day, it’s one less thing I have to worry about, and I can focus on stuff that is more interesting.

Wii Transfer takes over internet

Okay, not really. But this has been a crazy and surprising week for my “little” application, Wii Transfer. Putting 8 hours each day into “VitalSource”:http://www.vitalsource.com/ (I have a post coming about that tomorrow, by the way) and then juggling home responsibilities, putting out various other fires, and sitting down to work on Wii Transfer until 3am is just not healthy.

Luckily I slept great last night and took a 3-hour nap today. So time to blog again. :-)

Over a week ago I released Wii Transfer 2.0 and made a big mistake, and since I’ve been programming for the Mac for over a dozen years now, I really should know better. It was buggy. And not just a few minor cosmetic problems, but at least two serious crashers. I simply had not tested enough. It’s difficult (sometimes impossible) to regain a user’s trust after their first experience with an application is a bad one, so I got to work that weekend fixing problems and releasing beta builds to customers to get a few extra eyes on the software.

Then Monday came, and all hell broke loose.

Links from “Daring Fireball”:http://daringfireball.net/linked/2007/january#mon-22-wii_transfer, “Ranchero”:http://www.ranchero.com/?comments=1&postid=1523, and “The Unofficial Apple Weblog”:http://www.tuaw.com/2007/01/22/wii-transfer-2-0/ were followed by “Jostiq”:http://joystiq.com/2007/01/25/wii-transfer-for-mac-os-turns-your-wii-into-a-media-center-but/, “Infendo”:http://infendo.com/2007/01/wii-media-center-software.html, “4 Color Rebellion”:http://4colorrebellion.com/archives/2007/01/22/wii-transfer-for-mac-reaches-20/, and a bunch of others. Ironically one of the only gaming sites I read that never linked to Wii Transfer was the only one I had actually sent an announcement to (“GoNintendo”:http://www.gonintendo.com/). Traffic and sales were way up (“here’s a Mint screenshot”:http://www.manton.org/images/2007/riverfold_mint.png from one day last week).

But meanwhile, the application was just not that stable. I started rewriting most of the web server inside Wii Transfer and fixing lots of issues with iTunes and iPhoto libraries stored on external drives. Then I made my second mistake: I added a feature (album cover artwork!). Obviously, adding a feature in the middle of bug fixes just delays the original fixes and introduces new problems.

I also quickly realized how many things could go wrong with how music and picture sharing works. It relies on the Nintendo Wii and your Mac being on the same local network. Because Wii Transfer pings a bookmark server to register your IP address, you also have to make sure the app picks the right IP if your Mac is on both ethernet and wireless networks. Worse, many people have the Mac OS X built-in firewall enabled, so users are required to manually open up port 9000.

At one point on Tuesday when sales were coming in, every time I received a PayPal notification email I literally groaned. “Stop buying this software until I can make it work reliably,” I would say to the computer. The thing that got me through was that all customers who sent in support email were extremely helpful and patient. The other good news is that with version 2.1.1, it’s looking pretty solid, and the next update should wrap up any remaining fringe issues.

To everyone who gave Wii Transfer a try, thanks! I think you’ll like what comes next.

Wii Transfer 2.0 featured on Apple Downloads

I finished “Wii Transfer 2.0”:http://www.riverfold.com/software/wiitransfer/ late Thursday night. This version is an interesting milestone for the application because it goes beyond just using the SD card to shuttle data back and forth between your Mac and Wii. There is a small Cocoa web server embedded inside Wii Transfer that can serve up MP3s and JPEGs directly to the Wii using the Internet Channel. I think this could be the basis for some really fun stuff in the future.

One of the things I added at the last minute is to try to simplify how you connect to your Mac from the Wii. IP addresses are difficult to memorize for most people and may change depending on how your home network is setup. To solve this, Wii Transfer will optionally create a permanent URL for you on bookmark.riverfold.com. You can then add that URL as a favorite for your Wii and it will always redirect to your local machine. Wii Transfer will ping the Riverfold server on startup and update the bookmark database with your current IP address. You can think of it as a simplified version of “Dynamic DNS”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_DNS.

I just noticed that Wii Transfer is the featured download and staff pick in the “video section of Apple’s download site”:http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/video/. That is a nice surprise. It will be interesting to see what that does to download stats.

One last thing. Starting next month the price will go up to $14 for version 2.0 (free upgrade for all existing users). I usually work on Wii Transfer at night, so the increase will help offset all the sleep I lost. :-) Even at $14 it may be underpriced. Remember the “Brent Simmons rule”:http://www.red-sweater.com/blog/168/the-price-is-wrong: anything less than $20 won’t be taken seriously. In this case though I think it’s just about right. I’m also finding a large percentage of purchases from Europe, despite no localization, probably because the US dollar is so weak now. Enjoy!

Holiday hacking on Wii Transfer 2.0

I got sick (the flu?) shortly after Christmas, but nevertheless managed to sneak in some coding on Wii Transfer 2.0, which I hope to release this weekend. The big new feature for 2.0 is music and picture sharing. Essentially, there is a web server built into Wii Transfer. You can use the Wii’s Opera web browser to connect directly to your Mac running Wii Transfer and pull up MP3s or iPhoto albums. I’ve licensed “Jeroen Wijering’s Flash-based tools”:http://www.jeroenwijering.com/ for listening to MP3s and browsing photos. The interface isn’t perfect yet (the buttons should be bigger for easy TV viewing), but I think it’s pretty good for a first shot at this. The web server portion is based off of “Jürgen Schweizer’s Cocoa example code”:http://culturedcode.com/cocoa/.

“Check out this screencast”:http://www.riverfold.com/software/wiitransfer/screencasts/sharing.mov to see what most of it looks like. The first part shows the new Wii Transfer main window UI with a source list for switching features, and the second part shows what it looks like from the actual Wii. I just setup a tripod and filmed off the new HDTV with my digital camera.

I also started back on “real work”:http://www.vitalsource.com/ today. We have some neat stuff shipping later this month that I’ll be blogging about more once it’s ready to show. I knew I could easily get lost in inconsequential stuff on the Tuesday after a long break, so I spent a bit of time yesterday reviewing to-do lists and getting my head on straight. Got some real coding and design done today, so no complaints there either.

All in all, 2007 is starting off great. (Except that I still seem to be sick, but I’m going to try to ignore that for a bit longer.)

MacSanta and Wii Transfer 1.5

“Wii Transfer”:http://www.riverfold.com/software/wiitransfer/ is now listed as part of the “MacSanta promotion”:http://www.macsanta.com/. Only $7 through Christmas day!

I also released Wii Transfer 1.5 late last night. The major change in this version is support for automatically backing up saved game data files from an SD card. The Nintendo Wii by default does not save games to SD cards, but it’s easy in the Wii settings interface to copy your saved games to an SD card or restore later. If Wii Transfer is running when you insert an SD card into your Mac, it will automatically copy the saved games to your hard drive (in Application Support), organizing them by date. Then there’s a simple UI for restoring the games back to an SD card. “Here’s a short screencast”:http://www.riverfold.com/software/wiitransfer/screencast_backup.mov if you are curious what it looks like.

One neat part of this that I was able to do — and this is consistent with the whole point of Wii Transfer, improving the experience of transferring Wii data — is to show the real game names in the restore list. The data files actually use a 4-character code, but “WiiSave.com”:http://www.wiisave.com/ is maintaining a list of codes to real names. I’ve baked a portion of that list into Wii Transfer 1.5, and the application also automatically downloads an updated list from the Riverfold web site so that as new games are released, Wii Transfer will know about them.

Now head over to “MacSanta”:http://www.macsanta.com/ and pick up some great Mac applications, all 20% off.