evan dekhayser

a place for my thoughts



Hurricane Harvey

31 Aug 2017

Luckily, Rice’s campus held up really well through the storm. We never lost water or electricity, we had no shortage of food, and the damage was generally limited to some trees falling. Things could have definitely been much worse, so we got off pretty easily.

The extra time has made adjusting to college life a little easier, as there’s been nothing but socializing since the weekend. On the other hand, academics for the rest of the semester will definitely be a bit of a shock, since a week of classes can only be made up for in a really fast and compact curriculum.

As I’m trying to balance my work and find time for everything, this will likely make things more difficult. College is supposed to challenge you, though, so I’m trying to anticipate those challenges and get out ahead of them.

simple trick to improve customer relations

18 Jul 2017

As much as I would like to say otherwise, my apps are not perfect. They have bugs, and they don’t include every feature my users want. So, customer support is important.

Earlier this year, the main way I found out about problems was through negative App Store reviews. Few people took the time to go back to the App Store page, find the developer website, and submit feedback through there – nor should they have. That’s a long, tedious process that isn’t very obvious.

Because I’d prefer they contact me rather than leave a one-star review, I added a button in the app to “Contact Me”. Easy enough. Many users who would otherwise have left reviews about bad bugs with in-app purchases turned instead to me, first.

A few of these users were pretty angry, too. One user whose in-app purchase was not recognized due to a bug in my StoreKit code made it clear, in many more words, that he was going to leave a one-star review, get a refund from Apple, and delete the app.

And that is certainly his prerogative, of course. My job as a developer is to make users happy. If I fail to do that, due to a bug or lack of feature, then it’s the user’s right to be angry.

However, the way the user phrased the email made it sound like he was addressing someone that was part of a big company. But I’m not a big company, I’m a high school student (or I was at the time) who worked on this app in my free time.

I decided to update the app with the following change:

My name is Evan, and I am a student who works on this app part-time. If you have any questions or feedback, please send me an email so I can get back to you ASAP.

I am not a company, and I am not even a full-time developer. If users decide they would prefer a different pitch counter because they only want a pitch counter developed by a real company (???) then they can go ahead and download a different one.

Since this change, I have yet to receive any angry emails from users like the one I mentioned before.

Perhaps I fixed all the bugs, and there are no angry users anymore? Not very likely, I’m afraid 😅

If your users know there’s a human behind the app, they will treat you like a human.


29 Jun 2017

High school graduation was this month, and college starts in August, so for the first time I can remember, I don’t have any full-time commitments for the next month or so. Besides my occasional writing job, the only other thing on my plate is working on a new version of my app I want to release in January.

It feels strange not having to study for an exam or be anxious about an upcoming presentation. Even in the last two weeks of school, when I knew nothing actually mattered, I still worked my ass off because that’s all I knew how to do.

Now, there is no more work I have to do. Sure, I would like to finish the update before school, but that’s a goal I set for myself. Nobody is requiring anything of me for the next month, and it’s amazing.

In the past, vacations were never really vacations. Teachers would assign projects over our week off, or have a test when we get back. Last summer and winter break, I was too busy working on my college applications to have any time to breathe. Even spring break was taken up by the stress of college admissions decisions.

But now, for the next few weeks, there is no uncertainty, no constant obligation, and no stress. I am writing from a bench outside my house, listening to the birds and trees in the wind, and I don’t have to be anywhere else.

I don’t remember the last time I was so content.

an app obituary

16 May 2017

After more than 3 years on the store, I decided to take my first large project, Contact Archiver, off the App Store last month.

In reality, I should have taken it down much sooner. Because it manages the user’s contacts, the app needed to be tested and updated for each version of iOS to make sure it was still properly functioning. The negligible revenue it was generating no longer justified the time spent working on it. The app had been neglected since its iOS 10 update, and that wasn’t fair for the users either.

When this was my only app and I was not necessarily in it for the money, I could justify working on it. It helped me improve my skills and knowledge, it gave something interesting for a resume, and it was fun to make. Now that I have other more interesting and financially viable projects lined up, as well as the upcoming costs of college, it doesn’t make sense to keep Contact Archiver around any more.

I have always been a little disappointed in how the app sold anyway. As a paid app, it barely sold more than 50 copies. Changing it to a free app brought the downloads into the thousands, but the in-app purchases I later added made a negligible difference.

It’s a little sad to see Contact Archiver go, but I’m looking forward to being able to devote 100% of my development time toward more viable projects.

disappointment and opportunity

16 Apr 2017

Rejection is never easy. About a month ago, I was rejected from the university I have wanted to attend for the last decade. In the following two weeks, I had similar news from the next 9 schools on my list, all of which I would have been thrilled to attend.

Overall, I handled the news better than I had expected, but it still hurt pretty badly.

I did get into a school that was not originally on my radar. After seeing the school in person, I decided that it will be my home for the next four years. I couldn’t have predicted this outcome two months ago.

While I have heard that I will ultimately end up at the right school for me, I don’t personally believe this kind of logic. I do really like the school I will be attending, but I don’t believe that it is necessarily my school. No school is my school until I am there and make it my own.

I also believe that you only get out of anything what you put in. Whether I did go to one of my higher choices, or if I go to the school I committed to, or if I chose my safety school, I think I could eventually reach the same goals. Sure, the paths would be different, and it may take a different amount of time, and the destinations would be very different. But the main ideas, per se, would be the same.

I was definitely disappointed to see the rejections, but it’s much more productive looking at the other opportunities that are available to me. Instead of thinking about what I am missing, I need to think about everything still in front of me.