That Bike App

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Remember that bike app I’ve told you I wanted to write? I wanted to track all the miles we’re doing on our new bikes.

The app store has plenty of such apps already, but some of them are so complicated that it takes years to figure out how they work. I wanted to create something simple instead and went to work immediately.

I have to tell you it took a couple of weeks of tinkering and learning some new skills. In the end it wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be, but I’m proud to say that yesterday I’ve submitted Bike Tour Diary to Apple. Let’s see if they like it!

It’s been four months since I’ve submitted an app (which was TALK! – the speech synthesiser). Funny how quickly the brain forgets important steps and leaves you clueless. Let me tell you all about the writing process, what the app does and what features I’m working on next.

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Key Biscayne by Bike

key-biscayne-mapA couple of weeks ago we went on a 32mile (52km) round trip from Miami Beach to Key Biscayne. This whole area is ideal for cycling due to its flatness and reminds me of the North Germany or Holland: no hills, only the occasional bridge to climb.

If you go by boat it’s only 5 miles tops, but due to the man-made island setup we have here you can’t always go in one straight line.

The way to Key Biscayne has a lot of sights to offer and only mild to medium traffic along the way. Incidentally this is where “Tennis from Miami” comes from: Crandon Park is located there, and at the very south tip at Mile Marker Zero is Bill Bagg’s Cape Florida State Park. It’s so quiet there it almost hurts your ears!

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Child Theme Wizard – now available at WordPress.org

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Today my fifth WordPress plugin went live on WordPress.org: Child Theme Wizard.

It lets you create child themes in a single click without ever having to leave the WordPress admin interface.

I found the previous process bait cumbersome using external programmes to create child themes. My little tool has already proved very helpful for my own theme tweaks, and I hope it can help many others in the community.

You can read more about it on my release post including a video demonstration, or head over and download the plugin from the WordPress repository. It’s also on GitHub if you’re interested.

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Over-the-air beta updates are not working on my iPad 2

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Dear Apple,

I must have a very special version iPad 2: mine simply refuses to install beta releases of iOS over the air. More specifically, it refuses to activate properly after the installation is complete.

My iPod Touch does this without a hitch: under Settings – General – Software Update I just click on “Update Now”, and after the installation I put in my password, and everything is as it should be, just like with a “standard” new iOS release installed over the air.

My trusty old iPad 2 however (64GB 3G Version) hangs on the activation screen for two minutes, and then gives me the message that it could not be activated. End of story.

What I then have to do is

  1. download the latest beta for my device from the iOS Dev Center manually
  2. shut down my iPad
  3. start up iTunes and make sure I have a USB cable attached to my computer
  4. while holding down the home button, insert the USB cable into my iPad (it’s called DFU Mode)
  5. iTunes will offer to restore my device
  6. select “restore” while holding down CMD (or ALT on PC I believe)
  7. a dialogue window lets me browse to that .ipsw file I’ve downloaded in step 1

This will work, however it will wipe my iPad and I need to restore it from an iCloud backup – which can take an hour or more depending on the amount of stuff I have installed.

My point is: it’s tedious, and clearly doesn’t have to be like this. I’ve read reports from other developers who are experiencing the same problem – mainly on 64GB iPad 2′s with 3G. Is it because those devices are no longer for sale? Have the activation servers been switched off for our devices?

Outraged,

Disgruntled from Haringey

How to remove iOS 7 Photo Effects

iOS 7 has a nice feature which allows you to apply digital effects to your pictures taken with the standard camera app. I guess the popularity of apps like Hipstamatic and our desire of wanting images that are not perfect have found their way right into the operating system.

I really like the option, but sometimes I find pictures I’ve taken and think “darn… I wish I had taken this without that filter”. Seemingly there’s no way to remove it after the fact.

Thankfully though, iOS applies those effects non-destructively – just like iPhoto applies effects. And with iPhoto, we can remove anything that the Camera App has applied. Let me take you through this.

I’m using iPhoto for Mac 9.5.1 on Mavericks here, but the principle applies to iPhoto for iOS as well. This is a picture in iPhoto with an effect applied, transferred automatically via Photo Stream. Trust me when I say the sky was indeed blue that day:

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The many faces of SketchBook Pro

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It occurred to me the other day that I now own every single version of Autodesk’s SketchBook Pro family that is currently available. They’re all a little different, and they’re all for different platforms.

At the same time, I hardly ever use SketchBook Pro – but knowing that it’s available on every device I work with is a very calming notion. Don’t ask me why.

As the above compilation shows, SketchBook Pro’s Logo Design underwent a change or two, a trend that the company appears to embrace something like every six months or so. That and the fact that there seem to be more versions than you can shake a stick at make this app a little confusing to the newcomer. Perhaps this writeup can help clear up some of the confusion.

My latest addition was the desktop version for use on my Surface Pro. The asking price was $60 which I thought was ridiculous, considering that the iPad version is available for £2.99 and does pretty much the same thing. Amazon had it on sale for $20 before Christmas so I thought now’s the time.

Here’s a list of each version, just in case you were wondering. We’re discussing Version 6.x for desktop and tablet cousins, around in 2013/2014 at the time of writing. SketchBook will no doubt evolve further, and by the time you read this it may be hopelessly out of date.

Let’s check it out

Projects for 2014 and how they fit together

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I’ve decided to re-think my approach the Social Networking Scene for 2014. With too many profiles and too many projects, streamlining is the magic word that springs to mind.

And so I won’t forget my reasons 4 weeks from now I thought I’d share with you how I’m doing it.

Current Projects

I’m so glad that every of my idea strands has a different and dedicated website. I’m into very many things, but they don’t really mix or cross over very well. For example, iOS Development doesn’t go together with tips and tricks on WordPress and how to host websites.

Likewise, my sketches have no place in all this techie talk. And my photos don’t mix with creative app reviews either. And how about my company site that keeps track of all my iOS Apps?

Let’s examine where we are right now (2013/2014) and what is posted where:

  • pinkstone.co.uk – my personal iOS Dev Diary, contains code snippets and really complicated stuff. It’s for developers and code junkies.
  • pinkstonepictures.com – all about our iOS Apps and customer support. It’s for humans rather than code brains.
  • wpguru.co.uk – my WordPress Dev Diary, including my own Theme and Plugin releases, a place for support with those, as well as related things such as Plesk, Linux, MySQL, etc. Fairly techie, but less code focussed than my iOS Dev Diary.
  • wphosting.tv – dedicated site for my web hosting customers, specifically for sales and support. If someone wants to buy a website, I no longer send them to The WP Guru, I send them here.

That covers the left side of my brain. On top of that, and o balance it all out, I have several creative outlets too (for the right side of my brain I guess):

  • versluis.tumblr.com – sketches I draw on my various digital devices
  • flickr.com/versluis – pictures I take with anything from a Holga to a Polaroid, and various apps
  • Impossible Gallery – they have a user gallery where I post only Polaroid shots (they don’t have a proper user URL though)

How it’s all connected

How to show all your videos in iPhoto for Mac

You’d assume that there’s a default folder in iPhoto that shows all your movies, like in the iOS 7 Photos app. But there isn’t.

It’s easy to set one up using the magic of Smart Albums. Here’s how:

  1. in iPhoto, head over to File – New Smart Album
  2. give it a title (like Movies)
  3. create a condition: Filename – ends with – mov
  4. voila!

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For the nerds among us, what’s happening here is that your database is queried by something called a Predicate. Those are conditions that return results based on conditions  like

  • begins with
  • contains
  • ends with
  • is / is not

This is how they create things like “all pictures from London” or “all pictures from November”. It’s genius!

Now go and put it to good use.

How Apple have ruined iPhoto 2.0 for iOS

iPhoto-LogoA few days ago I was sitting together with my Mum in her hotel room and explained how she can upload all her photo treasures past and present to Flickr. A while ago she bought iPhoto for her iPad as a convenient solution that did not require a laptop (which she doesn’t like).

Yesterday Apple have released a new version of iPhoto 2.0 for iOS – and sadly ruined some of the best features the app had to offer.

Let me share with you my official App Store review that I’ve just posted – before it is deleted and deemed “inappropriate”.

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US Banking in 2013

hsbc-logoI have eight bank accounts across three countries. They’re a mixture of personal and business accounts. So I know a bit about banking.

And after the last few months worth of experiences with US banks, I can tell you that banking in the US sucks. A lot. There’s really nothing more to say on that matter, nor will this change any time soon.

Imagine a quick transfer from my account to your account. In the UK all I need is your account number and sort code, quickly login to my online banking, and within minutes you’ve got my money – for free, even between banks. That’s the kind of standard that – in 2013 – we’ve come to expect.

Find out how it works in the US