Learning Patience with an iPhone App

Having spent months planning and producing our iPhone app, it is kind of hard not to take non-constructive negative reviews personally. I know it is stupid and unbecoming of me, but it’s hard. There have been a few two or three star reviews by people with constructive suggestions–I deeply appreciate that. (Although, admittedly, I prefer 4 or 5 star constructive suggestions)

I just spent $750 on an update which added three new categories to both the paid and free versions, fixed a few bugs, and added an option to choose which language to display first in the flashcard section.

This morning I noticed Version 1.2 had been approved by Apple!   Yippie!  The first reviewer found a rather glaring bug and was kind enough to let me know (three stars but totally warranted).  I immediately got the developer on it and within a few hours we had a corrected version.  (Apple will probably approve it sometime next week…)

Well, I updated the iTunes page with a notice about the bug and that it will be fixed as soon as Apple approves the app and I mentioned that the Paid version did NOT have the bug in question–which was true.

Here is the one-star review that got my yagi:

“The much dreaded ‘FREE’ version.  Also, LOVED the way you threw out the hooks, ‘paid version doesn’t have the crash bug so why not upgrade.’ something about that seems insanely crooked.  Way to be guy… Delete.”

First, I was only persuaded to do a free version on the condition it could stand on its own as a decent language learning app.  It isn’t crippled and has over 450 useful phrases with sound in dozens of categories.  There are comparable paid apps out there.

I have a feeling this guy didn’t even try it out.

Second, why shouldn’t I want people to upgrade?  Why is that a bad thing?  Not only do they get double the phrases, but also a $5 coupon (which is more than the price of the app) at our Japanese online bookstore.

I’ll feel better after the weekend…  Ugh!

A Public Service Announcement

I just got an email sent through the comments section of our store.


  • All CAPS
  • A name like “Mr. Scott Smith”
  • Uses ‘Mr’
  • Broken English
  • A Yahoo email address  (not shown)
  • A sense of urgency
  • Express Mail shipping
  • Several expensive electronics
  • To Nigeria

No, thank you.

If you have an online store or are thinking of selling online, don’t ship to Nigeria period.  I know there are some really nice people in Nigeria, but it seems none of them are on the internet.

I have heard horror stories.  A friend told me of a friend of hers who months after opening a shop selling expensive knick-knacks got this ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ order from an ‘art dealer’ in Nigeria.

Excited at the prospect of her first huge sale she immediately made arrangements with the ‘art dealer’ and received what seemed to be a perfectly valid money order.  Upon receipt she paid hundreds of dollars for DHL to ship the order in 3 days to Nigeria.  She lost thousands and I believe had to shut down her business.  She had only been in business a few months.

Online business is great, but you have to be extremely careful.

Moving Update (theJapanesePage.com)

 I posted this at TJP.  The scheduled move to the new server failed, but this may have been a good thing:

The moving failure may have been a blessing in disguise.

Two times yesterday the server was unresponsive.  I called support yesterday morning and it was back up immediately.  Last night, the server timed out and I tried to call support several times, but I couldn’t get anyone (just a message saying they had a heavy call volume–goodbye).  So instead, I emailed them and went to bed.

This morning, I didn’t get a response by email and the server was still down. 😦

I called support and got someone who (unlike yesterday) knew nothing.  I was a little frustrated when I had to explain the website on the account that was working was simply DNS pointing to another (non-1and1) server and didn’t mean this particular server was responsive…

After a few minutes (22 minutes actually) she finally agreed to upgrade this to ‘server support.’

Another 20 minutes later, the server is still not working.  I will call back around 9 or 10 AM when the more knowledgeable people start.  I think since I called before 6AM, I got the call center who reads from a manual of “if the customer says this, say this, but don’t think.”

Just for fun, you can read this blog about the same hosting company I use: http://1and1aretheworst.blogspot.com

I should say, I am overall satisfied with 1and1.  I was just frustrated getting someone on the phone who knows less than I do about all this server stuff (and as you probably know, that is scary).  This is especially frustrating since this particular account is supposed to be a Managed Dedicated Server.  But I will demand either the server be switched or the problem identified and totally fixed before our move next week.

Just an ‘augh!’ update.

How NOT to Ask for a Link

I get a lot of link requests by email for TheJapanesePage.com. The sad thing is 99% of the email requests are spam – or I consider it spam since they are obviously automated and impersonal. I’ll explain below but here is this morning’s email with sensitive information X’ed out:

I appreciate the work at your

I am interested to list your website on the homepage of my PR-3 site:
Your link will go under “Recommended Resources”.

In return, can you please add our following link on your homepage or any related page on your site ?
Where it may help your visitors.

Title: Hair Styling
URL: http://www.xxxx.com/hair-styling/index.html
Description: We hope to provide all the necessary information and tips about hair styles.

Let me know once the above link is added, and I will link back to your site within 24 hours.
Also, we would be happy to link to you first if you reply to this email.

Note: Please do not add our link on links page or links directory.

Please consider it as spam if you have already received this mail.

With Kind Regards
John xxxx

Now doesn’t this just say, “I’m feeling lazy today so I will download a 30 day free shareware program that will automagically grab URLs from Google and spam, I mean, email the respected webmasters. Yeah, that is good time management.” The end result is an email that screams ‘spam’ and asks to link his site about hair care with my site about learning Japanese. Hmmm…

Tony at TJP has a favorite saying

As I often say — if you don’t have the courtesy to take the time to write properly with proper grammar, spelling, syntax, and punctuation, you are showing that you don’t think we are worth your time and effort.

So what kind of time and effort should we put out on YOUR behalf, then? In other words, if you so clearly disrespect me, I will not bother helping you.

Well said and applicable here too. I have to sort through hundreds of emails a day – most of which is spam. On a typical day, I answer 20-30 questions by email (without the aid of automated software) and probably spend 2-3 hours JUST doing email throughout the day. If you don’t respect my time, why should I respond?

TJP has a button that says ‘Add a Link.’ If the requester truly ‘appreciated’ my site, all he would have to do is click on it to be added to the links page. Of course he would have to be a member, but since he ‘appreciates’ my site, I am sure this means he is a member in good standing.

Please consider it as spam if you have already received this mail.

Wow, how incredibly considerate.

Occasionally I get real emails from real webmasters starting a real Japanese language related website. Unless it has no content (yet), I usually immediately link to them to help them in Google ratings. I like helping people get started. But do I like people who impersonally spam… ah, no.

Sweet Tea

I like my coffee black.


…And for as long as I can remember I like my tea unsweetened. I know most Americans disagree with me on that since you absolutely cannot find an unsweetened tea in a convenience store (at least not around these parts).

Japan is different. Of course you can buy cokes and other sweetened soft drinks in any vending machine (自動販売機*) but there is always a plethora of non-sugared choices. Tea is just too good to be spoiled by sugar.

I don’t mind the fact that sugar has a monopoly with black Lipton teas, but I was shocked to find sweetened ‘Japanese Green Tea’ for sale here in the United States. I thought, “That’s odd. Oh, but thank goodness! They have a ‘No Sugar Added’ Green Tea. Great!” Not so great. ‘No Sugar Added’ is marketing jargon for potentially-cancer-causing-artificial-sweetening-agents. I have yet to find a ‘Japanese Green Tea’ here in the States that is not sweetened.

I don’t mind a coke then an’ now, but I much prefer a drink without all the sweetness. What do they say? I’m sweet enough as is? Besides I have my manly figure to watch.

To solve all that we buy a case of Itoen’s Tea’s Tea once in a while:

* 自動販売機 ji dou han bai ki Vending machine [lit. automatic selling machine] I remember learning that word. A few days later I was working at an English summer camp playing a Charades-like game where our team was to act out the word. The hidden word was ‘Vending Machine.’ I was so proud I knew how to say it in Japanese I blurted out loudly “自・動・販・売・機!!” Bad Clay. Poor Students.

At the same Camp we had a race and I was elected to do the Get ready, set go bit. There were a few native English speaker students mixed with some Japanese racers. As the runners lined up I shouted, “ichi ni tsuite…” and everyone got in position. Then I shouted, “youi…” and everyone prepared to begin the race. But when I yelled, “DONGURI”* the foreigners all took off with precision and speed, but the Japanese students took one step and then fell to the ground laughing! I still feel a little guilty for that. Sorry guys. Again, Bad Clay. Poor Students.

位置について ichi ni tsuite Get set
用意 youi Get ready
ドン! don! Go!

*Of course どんぐり means acorn: Get ready, get set… Acorn!!

Wow. Another fraudulent order

Today must be my lucky day.

Having a business on the Internet always attracts the scammers, but we rarely have trouble since our Authorize.net account filters out all the obvious troublemakers. However when credit card information is stolen from databases or people are careless with their card the bad guys can get enough information to make it look like it is a valid transaction.

Just now I got a large order for 2 electronic dictionaries (the most expensive ones) with cases. This is unusual in itself. But it also was to Indonesia. Two red flags popped up and slapped me on my face… We do have some good customers in Indonesia so I was considering giving it the benefit of the doubt until I saw this was his third try with three different numbers. What’s even more disconcerting is each of the orders had a match for both the zip and the CVV number. This is information only the cardholder should have.

I’m on hold with a fraud guy now contacting the respective banks. I’ve been on the phone for the past hour. I could just ignore this, cancel the payment and watch 24, but I really want these cardholders to know their card has been compromised. (sounds like a line from 24…)

So on the phone I wait…


I don’t have a complaint, really, but I thought this would go well with the new イライラ category.

I had a customer from Chile email me a few weeks ago saying the order he ordered in early December hadn’t yet arrived. I asked him to wait a few days and he was kind enough to do so. After that I shipped him his order again since it looked like it was either lost or was on its way back to me.

Oddly enough, we have never had a lost package. We have had many international packages take a loooong time to arrive and a few returned, but none lost.

Today we received that package. I had to pay return postage which is to be expected (even though I am now $27.25 poorer…), but the funny thing was the USPS’s Reason for the Return: No Reason.

Take a look at the scan.

Attack of the Nigerians… again.

In real life, I have met a few people from Nigeria. They were all very nice. But on the net, I have yet to come in contact with one who isn’t trying to cheat me out of life and limb.

Today I got a PayPal ‘payment’ for an Ebay auction. The buyer purchased the auction a few days ago and I have been waiting for payment. After sending a gentle reminder this morning, I finally got the payment plus $50 for “Royal Mail – EMX Global Overnight Services” to… Nigeria. How nice. The winner’s profile said ‘she’ was in Texas.

I would find this a little amusing if it weren’t for a major auction that I really wanted to have sold last week. The worst thing is I had a number of watchers. That usually means the auction will sell towards the end. Well, since this guy did a ‘buy now’ and all those watchers are gone…

A few months ago I had another experience with Ebay and the Nigerians. This time I sold a $40 Japanese grammar book. A few weeks later I received a money order for $1400 in the mail. (If I can find the money order, I’ll scan it and post it so others can be aware). Now this isn’t too unusual since we sometimes deal with schools with large book orders, but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember an purchase order for that much. You’d think I would remember a $1400 order! The envelope had no message; just this money order. It didn’t even have a shipping address or what it was for. It did look authentic with a seal and even a watermark, but it wasn’t just fishy, it was downright stinky.

The very next day I got an email from the winner of the $40 auction telling me he had sent me a money order for the $40 and asked for a cash refund for the balance. Let’s see… That works out to be $1360 he was hoping to get. Oh, and he also wanted it shipped to Nigeria.

I really feel bad for legitimate business people in Nigeria and other countries prone to fraud. These fraudsters are frauding the future of Nigeria more than anything else.

To see just how bad this is and to read about a few people getting revenge (not recommended) see 419 Eater.