Septmeber 8, 2016: Amazon Skill “Viral Report”

Here is the Amazon Echo skill that I’ve been working on.  It is just a summary of the week’s trending news.

No.  There is no way to monetize Amazon skills.  I’m purely doing it for fun.

Septmeber 2, 2016: Pretty much done with apps….for now…..


Apple released new guidelines and stricter criteria for their apps today.

Apple will now remove abandoned, non-maintained, Apps from the App Store.

Read the discussion on Reddit

I think this is a good thing by the way.  The app store has turned into the wild west, almost as bad as google play.  One copy cat after another.  People throwing up multiple versions of the same app to try to get recognized.

Apple says:

If your app looks like it was cobbled together in a few days, or you’re trying to get your first practice app into the store to impress your friends, please brace yourself for rejection. We have lots of serious developers who don’t want their quality apps to be surrounded by amateur hour.

My problem is this.  In order to keep my apps updated, I have to spend a coder a whole lot of money.  I’ll never make money on small niche apps, it just can’t happen.  I make like $10 a week right now.  It costs at least $75-$100 for even a minor update.

I’m about to just pull the plug on all of my apps and focus all of my attentions on my Amazon Affiliate websites and my Amazon FBA Products.

Septmeber 1, 2016: Back to School and Amazon


It seems that the niche tech world is moving into the world of Amazon FBA (fulfilled by Amazon).  I have resisted this trend because frankly I don’t want to have to deal with a product and all of the headache that comes with it (over seas manufacturing, customer complaints, low margins, shipping and storing, etc.).  It is just not as easy as throwing up an Amazon affiliate website and let everyone else do the work.



I can’t resist things for very long.  In fact there is a study that shows that when someone tries really hard to resist, their ability to resist actually decreases.

So, I’m getting into the Product Game

I’ll release the details about the products soon.  It’s no secret.  They are already available, we have just made some improvements on design and are looking to find a corner in the marketplace.

Here are some sample logos we will be using.  I am starting with 2 Products:



I am still excited about DoDiscuss.com

Because it’s fun.  I like it.  I use it.

It is growing pretty quickly:Dod

I am surprised about my Amazon Skill “Viral Report”

I hadn’t even looked at it for a couple of weeks, than when I did there were multiple users using it regularly.  So I’ve decided to devote some more efforts towards this tech product.

So I’m busy with stuff.  Not making a lot of money, but making enough to pay for my hobby.  It really is fun to have at least enough money coming in to support other ideas.

August 2, 2016: New Website and Echo Skill

We have recently created DoDiscuss.com.  It is a private group sharing and discussion board website.  There is no need to have a facebook or google account to sign in.  The group creator gets a group name and password and shares these details with those she wants in her group.

Here are some more features of DoDiscuss.com


DoDiscuss.com – A prviate group Discussion Board

August 2, 2016 by Levi

Amazon Echo Skill

We have finished the creation of our first Amazon Echo Skill.  It is called “Viral Report”.  It is a summary of the internets most viral news/reports/trends from the week.  We built it so that the user will hear text read by Alexa and also audio clips from the internet.

This is totally new for us.  There is currently no way to monetize an Amazon skill so I keep asking myself, why did I build this?  I don’t have a good answer to this question, other than it is really fun.

July 19, 2016: Developing Amazon Echo Skills

On Prime Day, I made the mistake of buying an Amazon Echo:

amazon echo in living room
I just love it.  Didn’t think I would like it.  But I love it.  It has so much potential, and I think it will soon find a large niche in the development world.

As of now, there is no way to monetize Amazon Echo Apps (skills).  But, I think there will be in the future.  So, I have already contracted to build two Amazon Skills, hoping to get in on the ground floor.

In the meantime, and to afford to pay for these amazon echo developments, I have built two new websites in the past two weeks:

1).  bestgopherkillers.com

2).  bestcroquetset.com


bestgopherkillers.com made $26.18 on Amazon yesterday!  Only a week into its existence.  I’m excited for its future, but I understand its limitations.  I need to build something BIGGER.



I plan on updating here more regularly, especially with the Amazon Echo Skills development…..


July 7, 2016: Back to Websites

Wow.  It has been a long time since I’ve updated here.  I’ve been too busy and brain dead.  I just am not making money on apps.  I’m losing gobs of it.

Last Week was actually my BEST WEEK EVER in money making and I made less than $10.

app creation


My only popular app right now is my Accountable Budget App.  I actually think it is a great app.  It is easy, functional and categorizes purchases and spending histories between spouses/partners very nicely.  So, I am committed to its success still.  But, I don’t know how much more money I’m willing to put into it.

I’ve actually been reinvigorated with websites.  They are cheap and easy to create and I actually make a little bit of money.

I’m currently working on these sites:

1).  Xmasgifter.com – trying to SEO and increase my visibility with “gift ideas” and “Christmas gift Ideas” keywords

2).  BestGopherKillers.com – In line with my Topantkiller.com and Bestantkiller.com websites, I am creating an amazon associates website that will target traffic for “best gopher traps” etc.

3).  Popelocks.com – a photo contest website

4).  Atwaldens.com – a private group discussion/forum website

There is just something about my day job that doesn’t seem sustainable to me.  Maybe because it sucks.

I’m just holding onto the thought that someday I will make some software or website product that will actually set me free.


February 18, 2016: Invited 2.0 Released Today!


Download on the app store here

1).  Easier Login

2).  Easier Sharing

3).  Only One Page

4).  Who knows?

February 16, 2016: Made the Mistake of Looking at Reviews:

So, if you read my Feb 14 post i said:

” I’m not even going to look at the app store reviews for about 5 months”

Unfortunately, I did not follow my own advice.  I accidentally peaked.


Here is what I saw:


*I emailed this person two times with apologies.  She was not interested in listening to anything I had to say.

My Bad.  Seriously.

February 14, 2016: Happy Valentines – Crappy Accountable Problems

We may have dealt ourselves an Accountable death blow with our current users.  We had to update the database to record prior budgets.  In the process, all of our current users will be locked out from their budgets and will have to start over.

This is bad.  Very bad.  And we have heard about it from many users.

We can do nothing but apologize.  Which we did on Facebook:

Screen Shot 2016-02-14 at 7.32.21 AM

I’m sure we have upset all of our current users and probably have to start over from scratch.  I’m not even going to look at the app store reviews for about 5 months.  I’m sure they are scathing.

February 3, 2016: Major Update to Invited



So everyone doesn’t think that I give up too easily on projects, I have decided to try to REVIVE Invited from the dead.

Seriously, give me the paddles.

This app has flat lined since it was born.

So, I have come up with an app logic and design that is SUPER SIMPLE.  It is Literally a ONE PAGE App.

The concept remains the same.  A private place for families to gather and share their lives.  There has to be a market out there that wants to keep their private lives private?

Accountable Update is Close

My major Accountable update is set to be released by the end of the week (or early next week).

It will be the first time that I have in app purchases.  So the first time I can actually start making up some of my losses.


Hardware Project


We are working on my new hardware project.  I think this is a good one based on people that have offered to give me money for a piece of the action.

More details to come…..


January 28, 2016: Goodbye NewsRank


For the first time, I have had to retire one of my apps.  NewsRank had potential.  But I had to let it go…..

Unfortunately, the web scraper that was gathering the news headlines hasn’t been working very well lately.

Than this week, it stopped working at all.

I went to Twitter to see what the problem is:

kimonoIt seems like there are many people having issues with Kimono labs and their web scrapers.

So I dumped the project

Wasted a bunch of money….

And have included a reminder on my business plan to not rely on third parties for vital components of my software.


January 13, 2016: New Years Resolutions….

Happy New Year

I think I’m obligated to say that at the beginning of the post.  It has been a while since I have written here.  The traffic to the website hasn’t left, and I felt somewhat inspired to write a short update today.

Since my app developer left me at the end of last year, I have been scrambling to keep my software apps functioning.  I haven’t had any time for updating or new projects.

However, I am getting to the point where I am glad that my former developer has left.  He is and was a good friend, but I think he was coding deficient.  The new coder that I have is very thorough.  Unfortunately, he has to re-do all of the code on my apps, and this process has been expensive and time consuming.

I am hoping to have the Monetized Accountable Update done within 2 weeks.  It is a HUGE upgrade, although there are bugs that will need to be worked out.  I am also working on a Hardware Tech project.  This is new for me, but exciting……


Over the holidays, and in anticipation of New Years, I was given this Article to look at.

I had a slight twinge of conscious as I considered 5 regrets that people have at the end of life.  Here they are with a summary of how I think I am doing:

5). I Wish that I had let myself be Happier

This one will most assuredly go down as a regret of mine.  I have shiny object syndrome and am constantly looking for the next creative fix to increase happiness.  I often forget to consider the lilies and find myself caught up in the stresses/anxieties of my job and raising children.  I know this will be a regret because it is already one.

I am working this year on enjoying life and humanity more.  The day to day events and obstacles.

My goal for 2016 is to as Budha said “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

4). I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends

Yes and No.  I’ve always been a one friend type of guy.  My wife is my current friend.  As long as she feels that I am communicating well with her, I won’t have regrets in this regard.  In 2016, I do hope that I can make someone smile or relieve a burden or add a sense of community to a person that feels lost, abandoned or out of place.

3). I Wish I had the Courage to Express my feelings

Ooh, feelings.  And expression of feelings.  Two things that I am worst at.  I don’t want to express my feelings if they cause negativity or hurt someone else.  I would rather live with the feelings bottled up.  But if there are feelings that can uplift, compliment or encourage, I hope I have the courage to express these in 2016.

2). I Wish I hadn’t worked so Hard

My Grandfather was/is a farmer.  He has passed away, but I am sure he is feeding his animals, plowing his fields, and tending to the heavenly earths even now.  I don’t think he regrets working like he did.  I doubt hard work will be a regret of mine.  I can be inspired in 2016 to work a little harder.  Maybe work means doing more dishes, playing more card games with the kids, taking the kids out in the snow or waking up a little earlier to finish my chores so I have more time at the end of the day to enjoy with family:

1). I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me

I guess I’m not really sure what this means.  Maybe my intelligence or intellectual capacity is to simple to grasp this one.  I may say at the end of my life that I pursued too many dreams, that I should have stuck to the tasks at hand.  Maybe I will say that I wish I had suppressed my minds desire for creativity.  Maybe there are no fruits to my current paths?

There is something satisfying about living the life that others expect.  If I can live up to my childrens and wife’s expectations, I will be content in the end.

December 9, 2015: Progress Report

It has been a while since I have updated appthink.org.  I have been working consistently, but progress has been slow and nothing has gone viral.

I had to let my original app coder go.  I have been as patient and understanding with him as I possibly can.  I have given him multiple opportunities to reconnect and start working again.  I really don’t know what happened to him.  It is as if he has fallen off of the planet.

The trick is making sure that you get your source code without offending anyone.  Without the updated source code, I have nothing.

Fortunately, he sent me the code and I have someone new working on my apps.

Accountable will have a Big update released before Christmas, that will hopefully start to monetize it.


NewsRank app has been consistently gaining downloads since it was released.  It is a great headline news app with high potential.  I started an instagram campaign for it.  I have since deeactivated that account.  I hated posting Donald Trump news everyday and then reading the comments.  WAY Too much negativity for my liking.  So, I’m looking for other ways to market it, but basically banking on time and word of mouth.


I have a couple of other mobile and mac software ideas that I am working on.  I will try to update more often here.

In the meantime, I hope you have a Merry Christmas:

November 18, 2015: How to Get Downloads

Our current struggle is getting app downloads.  We feel right now that we have two great products (Accountable Budget and NewsRank).  Invited is awesome too, but it has proven to be a dud.  So, our recent efforts have taken us away from development of new apps and more into improvement and marketing.

How to market an app?

We are pretty much trying everything from Twitter, Facebook, Youtube Videos, Google adwords, word of mouth, etc.

Instagram Marketing

By far the most effective method of getting actual downloads of our app is through our instagram campaigns.  We have actually stopped working on the other forms of social media and are focusing our efforts entirely on Instagram marketing.  These are the three campaigns we have started:



and for our new website:

@XmasGifter  (up to close to 800 followers)


Still, we aren’t having huge success.  We get a handful of downloads everyday, but nothing has gone viral or even steady growth yet.

I am past the discouraged/disappointed and wanting to quit stage.  I am now on enjoy the journey.  I have very few hobbies (chess, reading, play uno with kids, movies) and so I consider app creation one of my hobbies.

Yes, it would be nice if something caught on and I could grow a legitimate business.  But, mentally, I am in a better place if I call my apps a hobby and my $ losses just an expense of doing what I enjoy.



November 5, 2015: NewsRank 1.1

Apple is pretty funny.  They forced me to remove a lot of functions to get NewsRank approved, than when I put the functions back in for the update, they approved it in 30 minutes.

It is much improved from the original NewsRank.  It is fast, you can open the news in our in app browser, you can save news articles for later, you can text/email news to friends.


On the Iphone App Store

Very Happy about this.  Now we will start marketing…..

November 2, 2015: Gaining Instagram Followers

While I am waiting on apps to be developed, designed and coded, I have previously mentioned the instagram campaign that I started.


Quality Follows

As of today, the campaign is up to 183 followers.  The goal is for good quality followers.  Because, eventually we will have a website up that we can point people to for product information.

In an attempt to gain followers, I have tried three different things:

First I tried:

Get Followers – An Instagram app


What a crap app.  You gain coins by following other instagram profiles.  The more coins you gain, the more followers will follow you.  So, by the end of my 25 minute session, I had about 65 followers and was following about 60 people.  None of these followers cared about my campaign, christmas gifts or anything related to what I was offering.  They were just following me, so other people would follow them.

What a stupid thing and a waste of time.

Within 3 days, most of them had dropped me anyways.

Fiverr Shout Out

Next, I paid 10 dollars to two people on Fiverr.com who claimed to be able to shoutout to their “Thousands of followers”.

I literally got 0 extra followers and wasted $10.

Upwork.com marketer

Finally, I posted a job on Upwork.com.  The title of the job was “I need 50,000 quality instagram followers”.  Within minutes I had 14 applications.

I hired the lady that told me my expectations were too high and that to get quality followers, it would take time and a lot of work.

She impressed me with her honesty.

I am still doing all of the content and she is doing the interaction with other instagrammers.  To date, we are now at 183 pretty good followers:


We also have a logo designed for the upcoming website:



October 23, 2015: NewsRank Approved


On the Iphone App Store

NewsRank was approved by apple this week.  Hurray?  Nah.  Not really.  Having been through this now 4 times, it was kind of a let down.  Usually, I go out to dinner to celebrate an app completion and acceptance.  This time, didn’t even tell my wife until the next day when I mentioned in passing:

Hey, Apple approved NewsRank.  (Very little reaction)

The Response:

So far very little.  I had to BEG my brother to even download it.  He said that now that Apple has their own News App, that it would be “worthless” for him to download NewsRank.

I think NewsRank is Hot.  On Fire hot.

It gives you the Best News from the Best News Sources.  Period.

My brother said he prefers to have news shown to him based on his viewing history.  Kind of like smart news.  I get that.  I prefer to see the TOP news and the news that other people consider the most relevant.

Who knows.

The Issues

There are SIGNIFICANT issues with the current version of NewsRank.  I hope users are patient.  Apple forced us to significantly trim our functions in order to get it approved.

So these are the major complaints so far:

1).  Slow news loading time

2).  No in app browser (apple forced us to remove this function)

3).  Others that I can’t remember right now.


October 14, 2015: Amazon Affiliate

Most of what you read on Appthink.org kind of showcases my failures in the tech world.  This is because I have really only had failure so far in app development.  However, the reason I am able to afford this hobby is because of the success from my Amazon Affiliate websites.

Some of these websites include: topantkiller.com bestspiderkiller.com and bleacherreviews.com.

Last week, I thought it was time for our family to start another amazon affiliate campaign (to make up for some of my app losses, gain some confidence and work on a money making project together as a family).

So we Started @XmasGifter

image1 (4)

It is a Christmas Gift Instagram campaign.  I am also working on the website: xmasgifter.com.

This is how it will work

I will upload a gift for males in the morning (I like to work on my tech projects from 6:00am to 7:30am every morning).  My wife will upload a gift for females during the day.  We will see which gift idea gets the most likes.

Follow along as I experiment with purchasing Instagram followers, instagram shoutouts and building an instagram campaign from zero followers.


October 13, 2015: REJECTED!

I woke up to see that once again NewsRank has been rejected by Apple:


But the reason for rejection wasn’t what I was expecting.

This time it wasn’t for copyright issues

This time they rejected newsrank because the resolution wasn’t compatible with Ipad:

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 8.08.39 AM

They also gave me a recommendation on how to fix this issue:

Please Revise your app to ensure it runs at iphone resolution on Ipad
Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 8.08.52 AM

So, we have fixed newsrank and re-submitted and are waiting for our 3rd rejection notice.  Apple hates NewsRank.  We have never had this much difficulty getting an app approved.


October 9, 2015: Waiting on Appeal

Surprisingly, Apple has accepted my appeal.  By accepting the appeal, I mean they have asked that I make some modifications and re-submit the app.

So I made the modifications (Force user to enter Safari instead of opening news source link in an in app browser) and have resubmitted it.

It has currently been in “Under Review” Status for over 24 hours.  This seems like way too long for them to approve the app.  I fully expect an “App Rejected” email anytime.

Accountable Update:

For the first time in the history of my apps, we are attempting to monetize.  We are working on an update to accountable that will allow the user to see prior budgets and also have a coupon saving page for $3.99.

App users are so cheap.  It is disgusting.  I am part of this guilty party.  It seems like highway robbery when someone actually wants to charge for their software product.

So, my next app that we are working on I am going to charge $19.99.  Dead serious.




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