Kwakkelflap: tools for the IT pro

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Service - O - Matic Professional

I've released a new version of Service - O - Matic today. The big difference with other releases is that we now have a professional version. New features have been added since the release of the first version. The product was growing beyond its boundaries. I still wanted a cheap, simple version. But I also wanted to add new cool features. So I decided to split the program in 2 versions. The first one with all necessary features, and the second one with extra specialised features.

Does this mean I will stop working on the regular version? Certainly not. I will add features to both, keeping the specialised features for the professional version only. The regular version will still be a high quality product.

The biggest problem was that the original version had some professional features. I can imagine that someone who wants to run his or her application as a service doesn't need the memory boundary check. This is clearly a professional feature. But I can't remove the option if a customer was using it already, right? Therefore every previous customer will automatically upgrade to the professional version. They will still have all the features they're used to. Consider it a "thank you" for the previous purchase.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

To PayPal or not to PayPal

When starting with Kwakkelflap, I didn't know many payment processors. So I went with RegNow, which seemed the most popular at that time. It's not bad, but the fees are high: 20% on each sale, excluding any affiliate fees. They do have a '6.9% + $1' plan, but there are disadvantages:

- The 'extended download service' is enabled by default. This means the customer will pay an extra $7 US if they forget to disable it. It actually makes our product more expensive, without any real gains. So I feel it's actually a '6.9% + $8' plan.

Take a Watchdog - O - Matic professional license: with the 20% plan, I receive $32 on each sale. With the 6.9% plan, I'd get an actual $36.24 but a 'virtual' $29.24. So, yes I will receive more, but the customer has to pay more. I can simply increase my price if I want to earn more for each sale. The result would be the same for the customer. $40 + $7 (download service price) - 20 % = $37.6. So I would earn more at 20% and the customer has to pay the same. He/she won't have the download service off course, but they don't need it anyway. I don't want the customer to pay more than what I put on my site. It will probably give them a bad feeling if they have to pay an extra $7 out of nowhere. So this is something that's not acceptable. Note: these calculations are not 100% accurate, there are other factors to.

- You no longer have fraud control. This means that if an order is fraudulent and there is a refund, you will eat the cost. '6.9% + $8 + $x for fraudulent orders' anyone?

- You are not allowed to have any other payment processor. So I'd have to remove PayPal from my buy page. This is not as bad as it sounds. If I check my orders, about 99% is with RegNow and 1% with PayPal. And RegNow features PayPal too, so customers who prefer PayPal can still use it. Also, with PayPal, I have to answer each order manually.

But I just don't understand why I can't have another payment processor. They say it is to protect the affiliate system. Well, I have news for RegNow: I use a RegNow system that makes sure customers from affiliates don't see the PayPal option. They are redirected to another buy page that only features RegNow as an option. Affiliates, rest assured. You will get credit for the sale due to this system. So what's the problem? Don't you trust your own system?

I won't change to the 6.9% plan anytime soon. I am checking out other payment processors. Most of them are ok, but they don't have an extensive affiliate system as RegNow. I don't want to win $1 for each sale, if I lose 1% of my sales. I'll have to check if it's worth it.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Website is up

Something changed in my schedule and I could spend a lot of time on the website. I was able to finish it, so the new site is online right now. I'm happy about the result. I think I spend about 2 days (48 hours) on it, spread over 2 weeks. 24 hours creating the template, and another day porting all the content and cleaning up. Most of the content is still the same. I will be revising the content in the next few days.

I'm keeping my eyes on the error log to see if I didn't forget anything. You can contact me if you notice anything that doesn't seem right.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Watchdog - O - Matic 4.00 released

After some extensive testing, I finally released the new version of Watchdog - O - Matic. I did a GUI update using the icon set I purchased so everything should look better. The professional version has an option to check the memory usage and I finally got rid of the registration keys.

Getting rid of the registration keys took some time. I also had to test this extensively, and it created its own problem: I had to change the Regnow product setup. I did this too soon by accident, so customers where no longer getting their registration keys, but a download link. This made sure I wouldn't miss the deadline, because I couldn't restore the registration key system and I had to generate them manually. A hassle for me and my customers.

I also use Inno setup now instead of the old InstallShield express. The old setup looked dated and worse: it didn't work on all systems. InstallShield has some problems of blocking at the beginning of the setup. I first noticed this on one of my own systems, and I got some complaints afterwards from potential customers. Not good. There was a workaround: run the setup in safe mode. But this isn't how I like the new users to experience the program. The inno setup solves all of this. As an added bonus, the setup files are smaller (1 MB each), so this will also save bandwidth.

What's next? I still have some features I'd like to see in Watchdog - O - Matic, but I'll probably work on Service - O - Matic first. I have some nice stuff coming up for this product. I have to complete the new website before I begin programming. Deadline is at the end of next week.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Final testing

I'm doing some final testing for the new Watchdog - O - Matic release right now. I use VMware to test it on 98, 2000 and XP. Everything looks good so far, so I might make my own deadline (Yay!).

Anyway, I scheduled a break and checked my new web design. Seems I forgot a tag somewhere in a link, and I have some duplicate labels. Well I only have 22 pages in the new layout, so just a quick edit and everything should be ok, right? Sigh, I just hate this monotone work. Worst of all, I know it's my own mistake so I can't blame anyone but myself. 4 more pages to go...