June « 2014 « Tidepool News

Hi everyone,

Tidepool alpha 1 is ready to download!


Be sure to watch the preview video if you haven’t already.  It teaches you how to use Tidepool.


Let me know if you need help remembering your password (if you made an account) or codename (if you didn’t).

Also, keep in mind that “alpha” means “there will be bugs.”   It’s a testing version, one of nine before the final version at year’s end.

If you do find a bug, please describe it in an email and send it to [EMAIL HIDDEN].   You can also send your suggestions to the same address.

To see the current bugs & suggestions, scan the list on the right of our tracker’s home page:


The Windows version shows a small error when you first run it.  Simply close this.  It’s harmless.

Have fun!  And remember that Tidepool Time is 12 noon ET every day.  Log in then to play Skedaddle with us!

Take care,

p.s. here’s the next book chapter:


p.p.s. if you’re running Linux, you currently need an NVIDIA graphics card with the latest NVIDIA drivers.

In two days, we release Tidepool alpha 1 to our private group of 84 families.   Most on the list aren’t familiar with coding, so likely don’t really know that “alpha” means “early testing version.”   Put more clearly, “There Will Be Bugs.”

For more than three weeks since freezing the release, I’ve found and fixed bug after bug after bug.  The shakedown period is a mostly miserable time when you repeatedly get down to “zero bugs” only to find new ones a half hour later.  The jello is mostly solid now, which means I’m ready to put it out for others to share.

Soon I’ll click “Send” on the email inviting everyone, after which mere minutes will likely pass before someone downloads Tidepool and finds the first problem.  Such is my profession, where we cobble things together as best we can, then unleash our imperfections on an unsuspecting public.

Software is hard!   Usually there’s so many moving parts that nobody can fully visualize all the interconnections and outcomes.  Once a bug is found, it’s usually a quick fix, but with each snag, the user trusts the software a little less.  “I don’t have time for this!” and on they go, likely to not come back.

Please be patient.  Please be kind.  Bugs are a natural part of the process.  Please don’t go!


Hi everyone,

As most of you (or your kids) know, I’m developing an educational game called Tidepool … kind of a non-violent, educational, hand-drawn variant of Minecraft.

I’d like to invite your child to be one of twelve original members of the Kismet Club, a group of Tidepool users that will someday get much larger.

I’ve chosen the twelve to fit these criteria:

1) even mix of boys and girls
2) half in the Lehigh Valley, half in Bucks County
3) going into 2nd, 3rd, or 4th grade
4) likes video games or tablets

No money or time is required of you or your child, though we do hope you’ll play Tidepool at home and attend some Tidepool playdates this summer.

You’ll be joining an existing group of 74 families who have been following the Tidepool project all year.  To catch up on what you missed, visit:


I’m not expecting you to read all of those old emails, just letting you know they’re there if you’re curious.

You can also read some chapters of a book I’m writing about the project:


I’ll be sending you each a secret codename that will allow you to download Tidepool soon.   It also grants you five Tidepool accounts with lifetime unlimited crystals, which someday could be quite the bonus.  Only 84 families will ever get these.

We’ll be releasing the first Tidepool alpha version in a day or two, so watch your email.


p.s. the 12 kids are Abby (4th), Annabella (3rd), Armaan (2nd), Brady (4th), Christian (3rd), Dana (3rd), Isabel (3rd), Jackson (3rd), Kai (3rd), Lillie (2nd), Maisy (3rd), and Reece (3rd).


I hope you’re having a great start to your summer.  Isabel, Paula, and I have been biking and playing, loving the warm weather.

Tidepool’s really coming along.  Looks like we’ll be “code complete” by Halloween and finished by Christmas.  I’d love to have a short Tidepool chat with you in the next week or two.  I’m nearly always available, just let me know when.

In other news, we’re opening things up to investors again, looking for the last $40,000 we need to finish, offering another 16% of our business. I’ve attached the most recent business plan in case you’re interested or know someone who might be.  To invest with a credit card and monthly payments, go here:


You can also give smaller amounts to help us get there.  All money given will ultimately be paid forward from profits to educational groups, so you’re giving to both Tidepool and future causes. Have a look at our Contribute section to see the giving levels and perks:


To see the current state of Tidepool, watch our new Alpha 1 Preview video.  Remember, this is a very early Tidepool version, with much more functionality to come.


We go live with the Tidepool alpha in a few days.  We found and fixed 35 bugs during shakedown and need a bit more testing.  Watch your email for instructions.

Till then, here’s the next book chapter:


Take care,



With some time off to clear my head, I’ve lost the momentum that carried me through May.  Just as well, since now I need to switch mindsets from coding to talking.   Of the last six months, I spent the first half on business development (talking, designing, writing, sales) and the next half coding Tidepool. My hope was to split my daily time between selling and coding, but that didn’t happen.  It’s tough to be two different people at the same time.

I need to raise $40,000 to finish.  We’re at least a month away from opening things up to Kickstarter and the rest, so this means person-to-person sales, which feels daunting to me right now.  In my head, I have complete confidence in the plan and my ability to sell it.  In my heart, I’m emotionally drained and afraid of rejection.  Somehow I need to will myself back to money mode.

Years ago, when first starting my work in Haiti, I confided to Susie Krabacher of Mercy & Sharing how hard it was for me to ask people for money.  Her response is something I remember often:  “Tim, you’re not asking for you, you’re asking for the kids.  You’re making it possible for people to help children.  That’s a gift.”

If we’re able to finish Tidepool, if we’re allowed to endow it with just a fraction of our recent educational experiences, if we can market it successfully, then children around the world will benefit.

I need to remember the way children looked in Haiti and Nicaragua while they worked with XOs and Etoys: confident, engaged, hopeful.  I need to imagine these hundreds increasing a thousandfold.  I need to see a million proud parents watching as their children learn more deeply, as they learn to think.

I am simply the vehicle.  Money given to me is opportunity given to children.

I believe this.

So quit my bellyaching and pick up the phone!

Hi everyone,

I’ve made a scheduler doodle thing to help me determine the best times to meet.  I’ve made it for two days … just indicate your *normal* weekday and weekend times free (they’re not just for today and tomorrow).


Take care,

Hi everyone,

So far during the shakedown, we’ve found 17 bugs and made 7 improvement requests.    Thank you to those who logged in yesterday and tried things out.

Please scan the list before adding new bugs and improvements:


You can then email [HIDDEN-FROM-SPAMMERS] to add to the tracker (or log in and do it from there).

If you email, make your subject line descriptive, since this is the title of the issue.  Also, put *one* thing in each email.  Don’t make a list.

I’ll see you at noon again, in 3 hours.  I’ll be at Isabel’s school, but should be able to log in.  Come say hi!

Take care,

Hi all,

It’s sunny, cool, and verdant here on the trail.  I’ll stay here for another fifteen minutes or so.  Log in to say hi!


Hi all,

I’ll be logging in from the top of the Kittitinny (“endless mountain”) on the Appalacian Trail.

Hope to see you in Tidepool!


Hi everyone,

If you’re reading this, then you’re one of twelve people on the Tidepool “shakedown team.” This means you get the dubious honor of testing software that’s quite simply not ready yet 🙂

Go to the download page on http://projectkismet.com with the account you already made (Chris, shoot me an email when yours is made.)

Things I already know:

1) the installer is too big (it will get smaller)

2) it takes too long to load (it will get faster)

3) the Skedaddle game takes too long to start (it will get quicker)

Here’s the official list of bugs and change requests:


(if you don’t have an account, let me know and I’ll add you to the group).

Feel free to add things in the tracker, or you can send bugs or feature requests to [HIDDEN-FROM-SPAMMERS] and it will automatically get entered.

One last thing … starting tomorrow, I’ll be in Tidepool from noon to one new-york-time. Henceforth this is called Tidepool Time, which is when we can get together and try things together.

Happy hunting!