Tuesday, February 9, 2016


It seems that the Yahoo query table that I've been using to convert latitude and longitude into this thing called a Where On Earth ID (WOIED) which is used to look up the weather was shut down January 22, 2016.  This has lead to a number of emails saying the weather has stopped working. Fortunately there is a work around... If you go into the weather settings then choose "static location".  You'll be prompted for a location and you'll get a list of choices if there's more than one.  After the location is set use the next option down "use static location". This will give you a choice of three options, choose "always". The weather should load upon returning to the main screen.

There's a couple problems with making a fix for the issue.  Yahoo doesn't seem to provide a different way to convert latitude and longitude in to this WOEID. The next biggest problem is that I've had a serious lack of free time since finding out about the issue so I really haven't researched it yet.  The next big problem is that I currently don't have a development environment set up any more.  As I've always said, I'm a lunch time android developer and I started a new job about 6 months ago.  I've been working on other side projects and haven't installed anything to do Android development.  Which leads to the next problem... I didn't keep up with Android Studio (the "new" Google built IDE) and never converted the old eclipse project, so there's a bit of work to be done before I can fix the problem.

I do have two possible solutions once the development environment is setup.  
  1. Another free API (or APIs) to find the WOIED.  This is the simplest solution.  I've thought about finding a way to convert Latitude and Longitude into an address and then feeding that through the same process as the static location.  This way I can re-use the weather code. 
  2. Another free weather source.  openweathermap.org has been in a updates file as a possible replacement for the yahoo weather source, but this means a completely new API and completely re-writing the weather code (plus issues with images, etc).  This might be the best solution, but I don't know if I'll have the time to do it.
The bottom line is that I know there's an issue.  I know exactly where the problem is, but there's a lot of work that needs to be done before I can publish a new APK.  Please be patient, I'll get a fix out eventually.

Friday, May 8, 2015


So, I found the problem with the in app purchasing not verifying (the payload)... and it turns out that:
string1 == string2
would return false (even though they were the same string) but,
string1.equals(string2) == true
would work as expected.  Now, this is something very small and trivial and something that I potentially should have realized a lot faster.  The problem is that (for right now) I don't do java development and that's just how things work in java.  My 9-5 job is slowly (and I do mean SLOWLY) starting to move into the world of web development using angular and java script and at that point comparing two string values using .equals will become trivial, but for now the .NET developer that I am expects the == to work the same way.

As usual, when I end one of these posts, I'll mention what the future holds for Desk Clock Plus.  As usual, I'll say that I'm not sure.  It is one of those things that I want to get back to and do a proper re-write.  However, over the past two years or so, I've started working more with a non-profit museum that I've belonged to for most of my life.  I'll be starting on a fairly large project that will need to be completed by October(ish).  While that seems like a long time, remember that I'll be working on it less than an hour a day.  After that, who knows...

But the one thing I do want to do is thank everyone who has downloaded Desk Clock Plus and a big thank you to the people who threw a dollar at me for the extension.  I never though that it would ever have been downloaded over 50,000 times and still have 9-10,000 installs.


Thursday, May 7, 2015

In-App Update

So, last week's update for the in-app purchase only half worked.  It works so much that the purchase goes though, but then on the other side something is happening and the success message isn't coming through to the app.  I'm very sorry that it's taking me so long to figure things out.  My limited time has been even more limited this week.  To add to the frustration, I'm having issues testing the purchase process because as the app developer, I can't go through the purchase process.  Even that little thing would help me out tremendously.  However, I came across this little nugget:
One suggestion for a test device (Step 1) , for those of you that have a Nexus 7, is to set up your tablet with multiple users. I did that and made one of the users be my test user.
Adding a second account is a brilliant idea (and available on my Moto X), so that will be tomorrows plan of attack.  Hopefully, I'll have some better luck with that.

Friday, May 1, 2015

273 Days

So... last post here was (as you guessed) 273 days ago and yes, with this post comes an update to Desk Clock Plus.  However, it's pretty minor and probably doesn't affect most people other than me.  Back in January, Google deprecated version 2 of the in app purchasing API.  I was warned and I did nothing.  January came and went and in app purchase for the dock extension stopped working.  I've meant to go back and fix it, but my time has been rather limited as I've been working on other side projects during my lunch (ie the time that 95% of DCP was written).  I finished one project and before I start on something new, I decided to sit down and bang this out...

So, I've made the changes and tested as much as I can... it seems that the APK (ie program) needs to be uploaded and published for the In App Purchase stuff to work.  I've followed the coding example and I think it's good.  I've also checked the code for re-activating the extension if the data is reset.  However, I couldn't test that in a positive scenario (since I can't purchase my own extension), but I've seen the code check with the play store and see that it's not purchased.  I also can't go though the purchase process even in a debug mode.

So, I'm looking for two people to help me test.

  1. Someone who wants to purchase the extension (I have a couple people who have emailed me)
  2. Someone who has already purchased and is willing to clear the data for the app.  When you go back to the purchase screen, the app will check to see if you own the extension and if you do, it will activate it (after doing this you may need to clear the app from the recent apps so it restarts).
What does the future hold?  I don't know... I have a number of projects that I'm going to be working on during my lunch hour so I don't know when I'll get back to Desk Clock Plus.  I do want to get back to it, as I do miss doing the Android development and things have changed a lot since I stopped working on it.  We'll see what happens..

Friday, August 1, 2014

Does this still work...

...Why yes, it seems that it does! The updates here are few and far between (last post April 2013?!?!?) and the last update to the app was August 27, 2013?!?!!?  G+ posts have only been slightly better with the last one back in February.  I honestly should do another "State of the App" type post, but my time for today is limited.  So the short version of what happened goes like this (Starting in February):

  • Re-write started using Android Studio
  • Problems with Android studio kept development to a snail's pace
  • Something Super Crazy AWESOME happened
  • 100% of my time got devoted to that super crazy awesome thing
  • The super crazy awesome thing didn't pan out
  • Little bit of depression
  • The World Cup
  • Re-re-write started in eclipse and I've been addressing GUI changes
That brings us to Monday when I got an email about the app selector not working for the MP3 button.  This feature has been a pain in my butt since day one and I've gone though many different methods for picking a music app and I'm hoping that I've got one that works...

Also, Galaxy S5 users don't have a menu button any more, so they couldn't access the menu (there's a back door method), but I figured I should also add an on screen button.  That's what the colon in the upper right side is for.

I have been working on Desk Clock Plus V2 and hopefully I be able to share a rough screen shot shortly.

Thanks for your support and patience. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The State Of Desk Clock Plus

Earlier in the month when the Yahoo geocoder I was using got deprecated, I had to go in to panic development mode (something I'm used to sadly).  Once the issue was found, I came here to make a post about what the problem was and to let anyone who cared to know the issue was fixed and the update was available.  That's when I realized that I had done three posts in a year... and I got to thinking that there hadn't been that many updates to the app in that period either (11 total and most of them between April 2012 and Aug 2012).  Most of the later updates were crowd sourced translations and not new features or fixes.  I figured I better write something just to get me going again.

First, let me say that this isn't a dead project (unlike Launch Bar which has been replicated with features in the OS).  I haven't quit on the project, it's just been pushed to the background.  If you've looked at the About Me page, you'll note that that I say in my spare time I do Android development.  As a father of two boys and a new homeowner, my spare time is pretty much reduced to my lunch hour at work.  This fall, I took on an a task for a non-profit model railroad museum that I volunteer for.  So during my lunch hours of late, I've been trying to foster a g+ page for +The Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum, redesign their website and get all the Google services working together.

Before going forward, let me explain a little bit about Desk Clock Plus as it exists now.  As you can tell by the look of it, it's based off the 2.x stock clock app.  In fact the alarm code is straight from the 2.2 Google source which can explain why some people have problems with the alarms and the app crashing on newer versions.  One of my main goals was to break up the code so that I could build multiple APK files (one per OS version) and still support as many devices as possible.  I learned about Libraries and started breaking up the code which lead me down a rabbit hole that there was no escaping.  After many attempts, I finally got everything to a point where I could compile the project and it crashed on load.... naturally, frustration kicked in and that's about the time when the Web site redesign for the nonprofit started up.

Some where along the line, I was helping a user with a question when the light bulb came on and I realized that I was trying too hard with making everything work and what I need to do is draw a line in the sand and start over.  As of this post, 66% of people who have Desk Clock Plus installed are running Android 4.0+ (the Play store tells me that only 41% of the apps in the Tools section are running on 4.0+).  So what does this mean?

The existing APK will be used for any device running any thing below 4.0 and will probably not change at all.  At some point in the near future (hopefully), I'm going to start a new Android project, bring in just the base layout and start coding from scratch.  Starting with the base layout (it kinda looks like a tennis court), I want to implement the same swipe and hide system for all four of the areas.  Along that line I would also like to allow the user to decide what panels they put where (Dock buttons on top, weather on the bottom, etc).  Even though I'm trying to avoid re-using code, there are somethings that are done very well and can be reused.

In regards to things that aren't done well, one of the first things I want to do is to implement OAuth.  This should start with getting the Google Images working correctly for both public, private and Albums shared to you.  Then that should be the gateway to connecting into the other Google services (Calendar being the next likely target).  I've also looked at using Flickr and 500px as background image sources and yes, setting a static image that's not your background.

As for things that are probably considered bugs, I have a list of things including:

  • Dimming the soft buttons (and I'm hoping the back light one devices with buttons).
  • Better scaling of images
  • Main Screen dim
  • A better color picker
  • Only keep awake if plugged in.
  • A better slide show

The in app purchase (IE freemium) system seems to be working well for me.  I will keep the app free, but things that go beyond basic that maybe not everyone would want or need will cost a little extra (ie the dock configuration).  This list isn't set in stone and may or may actually be free I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

  • The above mentioned panel configuration.
  • Improved weather information
    • Multiple locations
    • Forecast (3 - 5 days depending on what I can get)
    • Weather details screen
  • Enhanced Background Images
    • Use User X's pictures
    • Get me pictures tagged with X
    • 3rd party sources (Flickr, 500px, ex)
  • Basic Shuffle Music player
    • Randomly play music from this folder / play list
    • Google Music Streaming*
    • Pandora*
  • Enhanced Alarm
    • Play this play list on alarm
    • Launch App on Alarm
  • Daydream
    • This is the feature in 4.2 that works like a screen saver that will resolve some requests for the App to launch when you plug it in.

* A little note about integrating with Google Music and Pandora... Both of these services do not have a public API, however, some smart people have hacked together stuff that apparently works.  So purchasing the music player will come with those features, but I will not guarantee them.  So, you'll be buying my music player and getting those other features as a thank you.

Anyway, that's where things are right now.  When I get into Beta testing, I'll let the people who are part of the +Desk Clock Plus page know (this will also include free access to paid portions).

As always, if you have an idea or feature, feel free to let me know I can add it to the list.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I am HERE!

Yesterday afternoon, I posted the "second half" to the hot fix that was caused by the deprecation of the Yahoo Geo coder.  The static location picker should now be working again.  When you enter your location, if there's more than one returned you'll get prompted with the first 20 results.  If you're location isn't there you may need to provide more information (state for example).  In some ways, I'm a little happier with how this works, but in other ways, I preferred the old method as I was able to pre-filter the results by your location (ie US, UK, AUS, etc).

My goal for tomorrow is to write (or at least write most of) a post regarding the state of Desk Clock Plus.