Mar, 2013

Can we make a living from kid's apps? The results are in...

Speaking at LegUp on Wednesday night was a great experience - and Stuart Dredge from The Guardian / Appside wrote it up into a great article: Can independent developers make money from children's apps?

Mar, 2013

Can we make a living from kid's apps?

Junior Astronaut Sketches

Junior Astronaut in development by Chris Madden

I'm been asked to give a 10 minute presentation at March 20th's London Educational Games Meetup Group (#LEGup) session - the subject is "can small indies make a living from kid's apps?"

I think I'm going to concentrate on what I've learnt about marketing and the relationship I forged with a major publisher.

Come and check it out!

Mar, 2013

So it goes...

So it goes...

Finally got around to starting SlaughterHouse 5 - my first foray into Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - so far, I love it!

Here's what the original NYT review back in '69 had to say:

"It is very tough and very funny; it is sad and delightful; and it works. But is also very Vonnegut, which mean you'll either love it, or push it back in the science-fiction corner."

Feb, 2013

Shipped - What I learnt. Part 1

Junior Astronaut

Junior Astronaut shipped back in October - one thing I learnt was that full page ads in specialist magazines don't work - fortunately I didn't have to pay.

It's been about 6 months now since Junior Astronaut launched and boy, I've learnt a huge amount in that time.

If you need to catch up, Junior Astronaut (iTunes link) is an app aimed at younger people that is all about the science and history of space travel. From early Chinese rockets to the multi-stage launches needed to get us to the moon, the app's main aim was to create a quality, beautifully designed experience that entertained as much as educated.

You can read more about the app itself at


I pride myself in being multi-skilled in terms of digital product development. For Junior Astronaut I had to write the script, create the graphic design, compose the music and manage all the marketing etc.

But I have to draw the line at the actual dev. My original vision was to use the app to create a partnership with a fantastic iOS developer, and whilst I ended up working with a very skilled practitioner it was all too often like getting blood out of a stone.

This isn't a personal attack on the developer themselves, but it's worth considering very carefully whether working with someone who does not have a vested interest beyond being paid is right for a small project like this.

If you're like me, you want to obsess over every element, the way a user experiences every touch point with the app. You want the dev time to be sensible, but as your marketing budget is virtually zero, the quality of your product is absolutely critical if you want it to be shared and spread socially.


Feb, 2013

Unknown Mortal Orchestra


Went to see Unknown Mortal Orchestra at Cargo the other week - if you've not checked 'em out I'd recommend it.

Having said that, most people I try and introduce them to seem not to like them much. Ho, hum - on the guitar side of things, they are one of the most creative bands out there at the moment - and just a 3 piece - that always blows me away.

July 30, 2012



July 30, 2012

Dartmoor, 2012


Another awesome trip to Dartmoor for my birthday this year - pics and things as an aide memoir...

July 25, 2012

An after dinner delicacy...


If you've ever tried Kendal Mint Cake you'll know it's hardly the ideal end to a meal - it's basically a block of sugar with some mint oil for good measure!

Either way, I like the tin - purchased at Lymington Car Boot - 50p!

blog comments powered by Disqus

July 19, 2012

Coming soon to an apps store near you...


Not long to go - the final push if you like. Site design almost finished, anyway.

blog comments powered by Disqus

July 19, 2012

Do, do dee do do dee do, dah do...


Lovely bit of Grafitti spied as I found my way around to a night spent at

July 19, 2012


Found this chap, expired, on my window sill. Gone too soon...

July 19, 2012

They're Ggggrand!


I was pootling around Morrisons the other day (their butchers is really good for random cuts) and I spotted these wee fellas.

Quite possibly my favourite breakfast-cereal-anthropomorphism to date!

Feb 13, 2012

Vintage Electronics & Crank Interfaces


I'm deep in design mode for Crank's first app - title and details to be released soon - and I'm loving all these old dials and electronics kit that we're using to influence key parts of the UI (shown on the right).

As I type, the above Low Voltage Circuit Tester is still up for grabs on Ebay - anyone fancy buying me an early Bday pres? :)

Jan 26, 2012

Indie Space Suit Dev

Indie Space Suit

This pic is so full of all-kinds-of-awesome and kinda sums up a bit of the Crank manifesto. Break the rules, make it cool, is there a science angle, are we using enough orange in the design? Also, love the idea that there were indie space suit designers courting NASA back in the 60's :)

From a sometimes disturbing photo-spread from featuring the work of sci-photographer Fitz Goros (1901 - 1986)

Jan 3, 2012

Twelve Days of Christmas - 2011

Christmas 2011

Sat around the table discussing Christmases past I realised I could only place a few of the bigger dates or occurances. Must be getting old - so this posts (and others in the future) are for me to look back on over the years...

Dec 10, 2011

I Crank'd out some cards...

Crank cards

Yay - new crank Biz Cards - got them from There are three Crank type Q's on the back which link to an individual url - Why is the Sky Blue? How do Rockets get into Space? & Why are Magnets Sticky?

Dec 8, 2011

Andy J Miller / Kurt Vile

Andy J Miller

We were randomly scouring Etsy the other day and we stumbled across the work of Andy J Miller. The original piece we bought got lost coming across the atlantic but Andy very kindly re-posted and included a free print - the one you see above. Turns out I like this one even more - thanks Andy!

Nov 21, 2011

Comic dev

Moody landscape

Love this sequence of pics showing a 1940's comic from first draft through to the finished article. Read the full story over at Comic Book Attic.

Nov 8, 2011

Crank Publishing Ltd

Crank Crank Crank Crank Crank

Some slides from a deck I recently put together for my new business, Crank Publishing

Oct 31, 2011

Dribbble inspiration...

Moody landscape

Loving some Dribbble action at the mo and especially the work of Dan Matutina. So much so that I thought I'd have a go at creating my own, dark moody landscape in his style...

Oct 28, 2011



Wapping, Oct 28th 2011

Oct 26, 2011

Homemade(ish) macro snaps!

Kellogs Milk Bottle

I've been wanting a macro lens for my Canon digi SLR for ages - but good ones are crazy expensive! I found a cheap solution on Amazon - clicky for full details

Oct 19, 2011

You win some, you lose some...

One of the designs I did for the Guardian, looking at opening up data and design task to external developers and contributors

Since my time with Buildor has come to an end I've been working on lots of consulting roles whilst developing other business ideas.

I have considered applying for full time positions but very few have felt right or have really fitted the areas I'd like to move into.

One approach I made to a company oh-so-nearly lead to a kinda dream job - but it was snatched from me at the last second! It was with The Guardian.


Secret Science of Cowboys

iPad publishing experiments

There's no denying that the Alice franchise from Atomic Antelope set the bar very high for book apps (as opposed to iBooks) – they are clearly geniuses (I’ve just bought Chris Stevens' book to boot) but I wonder if there’s an opportunity to go beyond the physics enhanced reading experience toward something that entertains and educates at the same time.

So what do I mean by entertain and educate? Seeing Alice joggle and wiggle around the screen depending on how the reader influences the accelerometer is great but it has got to wear thin at some stage (Chris mentions that himself in the book as it happens) – plus it’s not really teaching the reader anything (which isn’t always the point of course).