Random Thoughts on Random Stuff

2014-2-17   iDiccionario 3.0.08 has been approved by Apple and is now in the App Store

2014-2-13   I uploaded iDiccionario 3.0.08 to the app store. Now we'll wait for approval. They've been pretty good on that, only taking about 4 to 5 days. Hopefully there won't be any objections. There shouldn't be any since it's just an update to an existing app.

2014-2-12   I uploaded iPadDiccionario to the app store. It was rejected because they said there were too many Spanish dictionaries in the app store already. They also said it's against the rules to have "iPhone", "iPad" or "iPod" in an app name. And they said I'm not allowed to have an iPad-only app that is similar to an iPhone-only app. They told me to make a universal (iPhone, iPod and iPad devices) app. I didn't really want to do that since the iPhone and iPad are used in such different ways. The iPhone is always in your pocket but the iPad is a discretionary take-along. I also see that the iPad is used a lot in educational settings, and I was hoping to capitalize on that.

The rejection pushed me to finish iDictionario 2 as an update to iDiccionario. I did that, with lots of problems along the way. Apple keeps changing the way things are done and it always messes up all the developers because things that used to work don't. I uploaded iDiccionario version 2.0.07 and it was approved on the day I finished the universal version. Now there will be an iDiccionario 3.0.08. I really don't like the way this works, as my description for the iPhone app was way different than my description of the iPad app. I wish there were a way to split the description so that one appears with the iPhone app and a different one appears with the iPad app.

Now I need to re-arrange the site to reflect all this…

I have a need to make a Bluetooth connection using classic Bluetooth SPP (Serial Port Profile) with my iPhone. Sorry. Not allowed/supported. My Mac Mini and MacBook both do it, but not the iPhone.

2013-9-22   I haven't done anything here or with my programming for quite a while because Apple rejected my iDiccionario 2 app. They said it wasn't unique enough and they wanted to see a search function. Unfortunately you can't search accented HTML, so that is out. I didn't want to leave the users of older iPhones out, which is the reason I developed iDiccionario 2 in the first place -- so the older version would be available to those with the older iPhones and the new version could be used by people with the new iPhones. I have decided to release iDiccionario 2 as an upgrade to iDiccionario. It requires iOS 6.0 or later, but Apple says that over 90% of iPhone owners have upgraded to the later iOS, so hopefully not too many people will get left out. The app store is set up so that you can't download the new version if your iOS version is too old, so people won't get an app that doesn't work on their iPhone.

I have removed all the Amazon links on the site. The Amazon affiliate program works like this: if somebody clicks on a link and buys a book I get a commission. This is one of those wonderful "Make money on the web" schemes. In the first six months I had ONE clickthrough and NO sales. It's been a couple of years and I haven't made a penny in commissions, so the ads are gone. Amazon had a bunch of problems with this program and it was turned off for about a year. It's back now, but I decided that I didn't want to force people to look at ads.

I really need to release iDiccionario for iPad. I have an iPad version 1 and iDiccionario requires iOS 6, which won't run on it. That means that I haven't been able to test it on a real iPad, only on the simulator. I see that I can now buy a used iPad 2 for about $260, so I'm thinking about doing that so I can test the app on real hardware before releasing it.

2012-10-1   I just got an email from Apple telling me that QR vCard v1.2 has been approved for sale in the App Store. Unfortunately I managed to break the assigning a new person to a group part when I updated it for iOS 6.0, so now I need to upload v1.3. I added a sound so the user knows that something happened when the Save button is tapped, so that's a nice feature.

iPad Diccionario is now working. I had a problem where the index didn't move to the right edge when the iPad was rotated, but I figured out how to fix that. I don't have an iPad that runs iOS 6, so I can't really test it completely except in the iOS Simulator. It does rotate correctly on my old iPad with iOS 5.1. I just can't test the scrolling part because of the "position: fixed" bug.

I have been thinking of adding rotation to iDiccionario 2. The problem is that the bottom half of the index would disappear and there is no way to scroll it back onto the screen. It would allow making the text larger and easier to read though, so I'm debating on whether to do this or not. I'm not sure I want to do this because I want the user to have a good experience without any problems (like disappearing indexes).

2012-9-25   Failing to save a person to the AddressBook in iOS 6 turns out not to be a bug but a "feature". You now have to have "permission" to access somebody's AddressBook. It's a setting under Settings -> Privacy -> Contacts. So I modified my code and now QR vCards works fine with iOS 6.

On a related note, UPS delivered my iPhone 5 today and QR vCard v1.2 works fine on it. Since the display is 4" instead of 3.5", my label and button on the opening screen are too high. They are configured as a certain distance down from the top, and the extra screen real estate is added at the bottom, so I need to figure out how to fix that and then I'll submit it to the App Store.

I can't create a new group if there are none in the AddressBook. Turns out this was working up through iOS 4.1, but didn't work in iOS 4.2 and still is not fixed.

2012-9-24   I just found out that QR vCard fails to save a scanned vCard or MeCard under iOS 6. It works OK in the iOS Simulator but not on my iPhone 4. It's fine on iOS 5.1.1, so Apple did something that caused it to break. The debugger shows the problem but I have no way to work around it. I reported the bug to Apple and now it's just a matter of waiting for them to fix it. This is so frustrating, especially after waiting almost a year for them to fix the scrolling problem in iDiccionario 2.

2012-9-21   I tested iDiccionario 2 on my iPhone with iOS 6. They fixed the scrolling bug! Now I can release it, after it's been sitting in limbo for months and months.

The MeCard conversion was harder than I expected. Lots of little weirdness there. Mainly the various MeCard generator web sites don't produce a MeCard that meets the specs. It's interesting that the address field is exactly the same with a MeCard and vCard, except MeCard uses commas and vCard uses semicolons.

2012-9-19   MeCards are weird. They were created by a Japanese company and they use Japanese-style addresses, which don't quite correspond to ours. City, prefecture, ZIP and country can work, but what do you do with "PO box", "room number" and "house number"? That's 7 fields, but I've never seen more than 6 used for US addresses. You're supposed to put commas between fields, but many just leave some out. How can you decode that reliably? The "PO box" just gets left off. "room number" is (sometimes) "Apt. #" or "Suite #". Everybody seems to use "house number" as the usual street address. They were mainly designed as business cards so they only have one telephone number. Some people have added a "company" field, designated as ORG:, but that's not part of the "official" specification. They have a field for birthday -- on a business card?

2012-9-17   I uploaded QR vCard v1.1 to Apple last night with the fix and all the enhancements.

I think I will do the MeCard translation -- just because I can!

2012-9-15   I have emailed Apple and they fixed my "Seller ID" to make it "Cliff Harris". Much better.

QR vCard related stuff:
The bug with choosing "Cancel" when selecting a group to save the vCard into is now fixed with version 1.1.
I also added the capability to specify a URL in the Setup tab. Contacts imports it as "home page".
It now has a "Tap to see instructions" button in the "Show QR Code" tab.

I scanned a QR code today that turned out to be in MeCard format. Apparently Contacts/Address Book doesn't recognize that format. I think I can translate it to vCard format. I haven't decided if I will support the MeCard format or not.

I found out while developing another app that there appears to be a limit to how many characters (or maybe how many lines) can be imported into the "notes" field in Contacts. It is a problem in the iOS Simulator but may not be in the actual app. I need to do some experimenting on that.

2012-9-11   I just got the email from Apple that QR vCard has been approved for sale. It's now in the App Store. Weird thing is the author is listed as "iDiccionario". I haven't figured out how to fix that. As usual with things Apple, it's not at all obvious...

I did find an obscure bug that involves using groups in the Contacts app. I don't know if very many people use them, so it might not be a problem. The app will crash if you tap "Cancel" when asked to select a group to save the vCard in.

I'm thinking about adding the capability to specify a URL in the Setup tab, maybe as an option to email or an additional field. The resulting QR code is going to get pretty dense. I see version 1.1 in the near future.

2012-9-4   I have uploaded my latest app to the Apple App store for review. It's QR vCard, which allows you to share a virtual business card. It has some unique features that none of the other QR code apps have. Other apps can display a QR code from a contact in the Contacts app, but only one that already exists. QR vCard let's you configure the QR code on the fly and add or leave off any information that you want. Other apps can scan a QR vCard and save it in the Contacts app, but QR vCard can save it to a group of your choice. No other app that I know of can both display and scan/save a QR vCard. QR vCard can also scan a QR code URL and open Safari with that link. You can look at the link before opening it, which other QR URL scanning apps cannot do. QR vCard can scan any QR code and display the data inside.

Click here to go to the QR vCard page. I made major changes to the Setup tab, so I removed the screen shot until I can update it. Now it looks very similar to the Contacts app setup page.

2012-7-22   I am working on adding symbols and punctuation marks to iDiccionario. That was triggered by the word "arroba", which is the @ sign in Spanish. I looked for a couple of months before finding the definition (which is new and not in the standard dictionaries).

I have started working on a new app that enables you to transfer your contact information from one iPhone to another. I think this will be pretty cool (until Apple adds this feature to iOS...).

2012-5-5   The latest version of iDiccionario is now available in the App Store. Lots of new words and phrases.

I'm still waiting for Apple to fix the bugs in mobile Safari so I can release iDiccionario 2 and iPad Diccionario (that name is too long and doesn't display correctly. I need to come up with something else).

iPad Diccionario is running but doesn't handle rotations correctly (yet!).

I found an alternate path to the resources I needed to upgrade Xcode to support iOS 5.1 under Snow Leopard. Now I can install my apps on both the iPhone and iPad, which are both running iOS 5.1.1.

2012-4-6   I thought that since the iPad has become such a great educational tool that it would be good to have some educational apps for the iPad. I bought a used iPad just for development and I have ported iDiccionario to the iPad and it is currently running in the Xcode simulator. I can't download it to an actual device yet because I'm running Snow Leopard and Xcode on Snow Leopard doesn't support iOS 5.1 on the iPad. I hate it. There was a workaround posted on the web, but Apple has blocked that. I hate it. I don't want to upgrade to Lion so I'm stuck for now. I hate it.

2012-3-25   The iDiccionario 2 page is now up. A sneak preview of coming attractions, as they say. I really like the new index-is-always-there feature. Since I'm a developer I get to put my apps on my iPhone while I'm working on them, so I've been enjoying the new features. You can't get the app yet, but I will release it as soon as Apple fixes the problem that is keeping it from working as it should. It's a fairly subtle problem and Apple knows about it, so it's just a matter of time until they get around to releasing a new version of iOS that fixes it.

I uploaded all the old OS 9 freeware that I have on my other site. I know very few people are interested in this stuff, but it's there for those folks who do have an interest.

2012-3-21   I've been adding more words and phrases to the iDiccionario dictionary. Hopefully the older version will get released soon. Apple still hasn't fixed the bug that is keeping iDiccionario 2 from working. My plan is to put up an iDiccionario 2 page with screen shots and a note that it isn't available yet. I have been thinking of doing an iPad version. I think that is pretty likely to happen. I just need an iPad to do some testing. I see the iPad as overlapping my MacBook and iPhone so I don't see a reason to buy one. I have been thinking maybe I could find someone who has upgraded and would let me borrow the old one.

2012-2-22   So I've been a little lax on updating the blog. So I've been a little lax on a lot of things in my life. Anyhow, iDiccionario 2 is in the works, with the usual major problems that prevent it from working (Apple's fault). This one will require iOS 5, so I'm thinking about making it a separate app so it won't break on older versions of the iOS.

My other app is sorta permanently on hold because of my inexperience with Objective-C. I just can't get it to work correctly, though I had it at one time and somehow modified it into an unworking state that I haven't been able to recover from. I've been reading an Objective-C book and I think I might have a clue on how to fix the problem.

So far my Amazon affiliate links have earned me exactly zero dollars, so I guess nobody is visiting here. Or at least interested in the books I linked to. That's too bad, because David Pogue's book is excellent. The rest are pretty geeky, so I'm not really surprised. So much for getting rich on the Internet...

2011-3-25   I can't believe how long it took me to finally get the Verizon logo page up. I wrote it about a month ago and then never actually uploaded it. Oh well. It's there now. You too can have a Verizon logo on your iPhone, even though it's not as surprising as it was before the Verizon iPhone was introduced...

2011-1-26   I got this idea of putting a Verizon logo on my iPhone. All it took was taking a screen shot of the logo on the Verizon web site. Then things got a little complicated, but I did it. My plan now is to put up a page here with the logo and instructions on how to do it.

2010-10-14   Yes, it's been a really long time since I updated the blog. Many distractions that couldn't be ignored (like spine surgery).

Still struggling with my new app. Mysterious problems and Objective C weirdness to deal with. Major parts are done. Details are sometimes killers.

2010-6-30   Just got the email from Apple that iDiccionario 1.2.03 is on the App Store. Just checked and it is not there yet. I found a way to make the buttons bigger and better looking. Had a timing problem with iOS 4.0, which runs slower than 3.1.3. Fixed that, so it was time for the version update. The app was crashing under 4.0, which I didn't want to happen to the users. It should just work.

Been super busy so I haven't added any blog entries lately. Programming is a "spare time" operation, and there are so many other things that need to be done.

My new app is mostly done. It's on my iPhone and most parts function. The trick didn't work because Apple explicitly disabled the function I wanted to use. Have to work around that with a complicated scheme that turns out not to be too bad. As usual, bogged down by mysterious methods for doing what I'll think is simple after I finally figure it out...

I followed my own link to the iTunes store and iDiccionario 1.2.03 is there now. The screen shots haven't updated yet though. Should happen soon, I hope.

2010-3-16   I just got the magic email from Apple. My updated iDiccionario version 1.1.02 will be on the App Store within 24 hours. Cool. The update process turned out to be super simple compared to the original submission. Had a lot of problems with the upload until I finally figured out that I had to manually change the build settings from "Developer" to "Distribution".

I want to make the index buttons larger. Sometimes I tap and miss. I tried a few things without success. I think maybe a transparent image might do it.

I read about an interesting application that has given me an idea for a new application. No hints on what it is. Some high school kid might do an all-nighter and put out a kludgy version that steals my market share. This is a good one and there's nothing like it on the App Store. I want it to be super useful and easy to use. Fortunately I know a trick...

2010-2-20   It's taking 42 seconds to do a rotation. I have no idea what's happening during that time. No hints from the documentation. Maybe it's looking for something and then timing out when it doesn't find it? It sorta looks like the "loading" delay I saw when I didn't have a view controller. I think rotation might never appear. Too bad.

2010-2-14   I managed to break my iDiccionario test software. It took this long to get it back on track. Many weird things happen behind the scenes on the iPhone. Unfortunately Apple doesn't feel the necessity to actually tell us what they are.

I just found out that planeta is actually masculine, not feminine. I wonder how many other errors lurk in the text file.

Now I need to update the text and I can release version 1.1.02. Lots of new words and phrases to add...

2010-1-2   Thinking about a search function for iDiccionario. This will probably turn out to be really difficult. The HTML is converted into a webView object, which is completely opaque to the outside world. I haven't seen any methods to search it. The alternative is to search the source HTML file, highlight the found text, then load it into the webView. Very time consuming. I think the search by itself will take a long time.

More complications... Since the source is HTML instead of plain text, the accented characters are actually & characters. For example, "día" is actually "día". So to do the search it would have to be converted to HTML to find the actual text. Also, what happens if the user types "dia" with no accent? The search would have to be smart enough to figure that out. Way complicated. ...And I was concerned about the time to do the actual searching. This may not be practical.

Interesting that I have never seen anything about doing a text search in any of the 15 iPhone books I have...

2009-12-31   Trying to update iDiccionario. I did discover a way to speed up the loading process. I do lie to the user by saying that it's loading the file, which is not true. It takes about 2 seconds to actually load the file. The rest is the webView parsing the HTML. I thought "Loading file..." would be more meaningful than "Parsing HTML...". I timed it at ~25 seconds when I first started working on this. I've added a viewController and can use the debugger to time the parsing process. I see 17 seconds now. The dialog box timer is set to 30 seconds (to allow a little leeway for increasing the size of the file). Now I abort the dialog box when it finishes parsing. Nice speedup, even though I wish the parsing were faster. At least we're using the system instead of just guessing how long it will take. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be any way to actually monitor the parsing process.

The rotation really sucks. It keeps scaling the size up to fit instead of just displaying a wider view with more content visible. Also it takes forever to do the rotation. Apparently it's reparsing the HTML. Another sucky problem: if I scroll to Z and rotate, it shows entries in the P's. I think it's proportional to the vertical size of the window. Mysterious stuff. Tried lots of different things. No joy. The documentation says, "Do this". I do that and it doesn't work. ???

2009-12-4   I discovered a hidden character in the iDiccionario description. It's in the App Store description as well as here. Very strange. I wonder how it got there. Things are starting to settle down around here. I hope to implement rotation in iDiccionario soon.

2009-11-29   I'm back, after a diversion into higher-priority projects. I added Amazon book links to the iPhone page. Next is the OS X page. I really need an icon for my Python application.

I had an illumination concerning online documentation vs. books. With a book you can highlight, write in the margins and put bookmarks in important places. The biggest problem I have with online documentation is that, unless you know exactly what you're looking for, you simply can't find it. If you spell something slightly differently or use the wrong phrase you'll get no hits -- not useful at all. On the other hand, if you're too vague then you get 23,234,980 hits, which isn't very useful either.

2009-11-12   After hours of futzing, I got the Available on the App Store converted into a .GIF with a background that matches the background of the iDiccionario page. I couldn't figure out how to do a transparent background, so we'll just have to live with this for now. I added the iPhone artwork to the screenshots. Now that's cool!

I did a search on VersionTracker for Spanish dictionaries. There were about 10 hits. It's surprising how bad their web sites look. I think only one had a link to the App Store. Ultralingua was really disappointing for a commercial application.

2009-11-9   Finally found out how to flow text around my navigation buttons. It's beautiful now. Hopefully I'll only need to spend a little more time fixing up the web site and then I can go back to finishing what I want to do with iDiccionario.

I got approval from Apple to use the "Available on the App Store" image. Cool! And now I'll be able to flow the text around it, as I wanted to do.

2009-11-7   For my next magical trick, I need to figure out how to get the Amazon affiliate links on my pages. My plan is to put some links on the OS X, iPhone and HTML pages.

I need to get the iPhone graphics on the iPhone page. And make room for the App Store image.

2009-11-7   Moved the following text from the OS X page because it seemed like this would be a better place for it:

I started programming right after I got my first computer in 1980 (a used Apple II from a friend). Back in those days we used a video modulator to connect the computer to a TV set because monitors were way too expensive for the average person. I started out using Applesoft BASIC (loaded from cassette tapes!) and soon switched to 6502 assembly language. I was published twice in Nibble magazine.

I got my first Macintosh (512Ke) in 1987 and immediately started programming in 680x0 assembly language. I upgraded to an SE/30 (that I still have - it doesn't work right now, but I want to fix that. It's nice to be an electronic engineer by trade). Then I went for color with a IIci. It still works and is presently holding up my monitor.

Later I got my first PowerMac, an 8500/150 ($4500 seems like a lot of money now, and the 150 refers to the blazingly fast 150MHz clock speed). I switched to PowerPC assembly language and wrote a lot of programs in that format, which are still available as freeware (see my OS 9 page). A friend of mine gave me a Blue & White, which I thought was a great deal until I saw they were selling on the web for $79. It got flaky, so I bought a G4 Yikes!, the last Macintosh with a PCI bus. I wanted all my cards to fit. Unfortunately it has a USB keyboard, so I had to give up my beloved Saratoga (I think it was named after the aircraft carrier because it's so big). That's my main machine, running OS 9.2 (though I do have OS X Tiger on a second hard drive). I really like a lot of things about OS 9.2 but it doesn't support the newer browsers and latest software. I see a lot of problems with new web sites with the latest fancy stuff.

My first Mac laptop was a Model 100, which I bought when a local discount computer store was blowing them out after they were discontinued. I traded it in on an Apple program and got a Pismo. Later I saw a friend's 17" Aluminum PowerBook, and to paraphrase Independence Day, "I gotta get me one of those"! I do a lot of traveling and the 17" is just too big so I got a 13.3" MacBook with Intel Inside.

Then the iPhone 3G came out...

2009-11-5   Applied for the Amazon affiliate program. I read a lot of books and will put up some recommendations here, mainly on programming and HTML related stuff. I was turned down by the CNET/VersionTracker folks because they said my site was "under construction" and they don't like that. I wonder if it ever occurred to them that any site that is not dead is "under construction".

2009-11-3   Got that wonderful email from Apple: iDiccionario has been accepted into the App Store. Haven't been there yet to see what's up. They say all the legal and financial stuff has to be handled before it actually appears in the App Store. I need to surf on over there... Wow! It's there. I need to get a link on the iDiccionario page... and get the App Store icon on there -- oops, don't have permission from Apple legal yet.

2009-11-2   Found out that default web file is index.html, not Index.html with an uppercase letter. Now I'm reminded that URLs are case sensitive.

Changed font to Arial. Much better than Times New Roman. What were they thinking when they made that the default?

I need to add a Home button to these pages.

2009-11-1   Sent the legal papers to Apple to allow me to use the Available on the App Store icon. Reorganized the files on the site to make it easier for me to maintain it. A whole flock of Index.html files gets really confusing. I hate this font (Times New Roman) -- this really needs to change soon. Got the Home menu sorta working. Looks a little funny...

2009-10-31   Fighting with HTML. It's been about 10 years since I messed with this last. I avoided CSS back then. Looks like I need it now to make my left and right menus work. So what do we do? Order a book from Amazon, of course.

I found Geani Muñiz on MySpace! Cool! I followed a friend link from Miriam Cruz's MySpace page. I've seen her name spelled Jeanne, Jeanny, Jeany and Geane. Now I wonder if Muñiz is correct.

2009-10-23   Finally successful in uploading iDiccionario to the App Store and filled out the financial stuff. Thanks to "iPhone Application Development for Dummies" for tipping me off about the SWIFT code so I was prepared. Turned out my upload problem was that I had a Development Provision and I had given my Distribution Provision the same name and it somehow didn't overwrite it.

2009-10-22   Now I find that I need a Distribution Provision to upload. This is really painful. Still can't upload. ????

2009-10-21   Found out I need a Distribution Certificate to upload to the App Store. Plus I had to hand thrash the project file to get that in there. Still can't upload.

2009-10-20   Tried to upload iDiccionario to the App Store. Mysterious error messages aren't helpful. Lots of web research reveals others are having the same problems. I started this site because the App Store requires a site to support featured apps.

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