Wednesday
Aug292012

Attendance2 data bug

Although I still have not reproduced this problem, I do not have any reports of it in version 1.2.1 or higher so it appears to be fixed. I recommend you continue to backup your data regularly.

I have heard from a few people (about 1% of the people who purchased Attendance2) that after using Attendance2 for a few days, they can no longer open their data file (it hangs with the semi-transparent message that it is opening the file). When they back up the file to Dropbox, the data file is essentially empty (it seems to be 22 bytes which is just enough to indicate the directory structure of the data, but no actual data). So it appears the app is not correctly saving their data.

I have been using the app since January in my classes and have never had this happen so I'm having trouble tracking down the problem. I certainly wouldn't have released the app if I was aware of this since it's not worth the stress for the small amount of money I make from the app. So until I get this figured out, I have temporarily pulled the app from the store. I will be using one of my two "support tickets" with Apple to try to get a number of questions answered to see if those answers can help me track it down.

I am using a new feature in iOS 5 to store/save the data so it's possible the bug is in Apple's code (which would mean there's nothing I can do to fix it until they do) or perhaps I'm not using the code correctly (which is the more likely case) or perhaps the people that are having the problem are doing some combination of steps I had never tried and is leading to the error.

In the meantime, if you are using Attendance2, please backup your data every day. When you are done with your class, use the option to Backup to Dropbox or Backup via email to backup your course. When you are back at your computer, check to see the size of the file. If it's 22 bytes or less than 1KB, something went wrong and you will want to access the backup from the previous day. If you're backing up to Dropbox, you can login to their website (dropbox.com) and restore an earlier version of the file to Dropbox and then import that back into Attendance2.

Unfortunately I have no way to contacting people who purchased the app unless they have contacted me so if your colleagues are using the app, please let them know and tell them to backup the data every day.

If anyone knows of steps that make his happen consistently (i.e., you can take a file, do certain tasks with the app, and it happens - and then if you restore the previous data file and do the same steps, and it immediately happens again, please let me know).

I apologize for this, but since it never happened in seven months of testing, I had no idea there was a problem.

I will post an update when I figure this out and when the update is approved by Apple.

Monday
Jul162012

Attendance2 available

Attendance2 is available in the App Store (App Store link for Attendance2). As announced, the introductory price for the first week is $3.99. It will move to the regular price of $4.99 on July 23rd.

There is more information about it here and the start of a FAQ. The main missing feature (compared to the original Attendance app) is the random functionality. I will be working on it soon but also need to start working on my fall classes so I don't know whether I will get it done by the end of August or will have to finish that feature on the weekends this fall.

I also am working on a few more videos showing how to use it and will post those along with the existing videos here.

I hope you find the new app both simpler and more configurable.

Friday
Jul062012

Attendance2 release

Apple has approved the 1.0 release of my new Attendance2 app which requires iOS 5 or higher. I have family visiting next week so I set the release date for Monday July 16, 2012 since I didn't want initial questions when I want to take some time off. This will also give me more time to work on making more videos showing how to use the app. As I announced, the introductory price will be $3.99 for the first week and then on July 23rd the price will move to its regular price of $4.99.

There is more information on the web page for the app (link) including two videos. One video goes through most of the screens so you can see the functionality of the app and the other shows the new more flexible CSV importing of names. I have also started a FAQ for the new app.

The one major feature missing that the original Attendance app has is the random name/groups functionality. I will be working on that later this month and in August along with getting ready for my fall classes.  I hope to have an update with the random functionality late in August or in September.

I am leaving the original Attendance app for sale for anyone who needs an app that runs on iOS 4 and it allows me to provide bug fix updates. I will continue supporting the original app through iOS 6 (which should mean through the summer of 2013). I am currently testing both apps on iOS 6. The original app will never require beyond iOS 4.0 and at the moment I have no plans to require anything higher than iOS 5.0 for Attendance2 (i.e., it will run on both iOS 5 and iOS 6).

Apple approved the update during the time when they were having some DRM issues on a server that was leading to apps crashing on launch. You can read more here. Apple has since fixed the bug so I expect Attendance2 will be fine, but if you get crashes on launch, please let me know (dave256apps (at) me (dot) com). I will purchase it on my wife's iPhone the first day to see if it seems ok.

Monday
Jun112012

Pelotonia bike ride for cancer research

I am riding in the 2012 Pelotonia to raise money for the James Cancer Hospital at Ohio State University. My wife, Sherri, is a cancer survivor thanks to the excellent treatment she received at the James. I am currently planning to ride the 100 mile route although if Sherri is able to ride I will likely do the 50 mile route with her. I did the Pelotonia ride two years ago and learned my lesson about needing to train on real hills. There are no hills near my house so in May I did a group ride that hit some of the same hills Pelotonia does. For those who are curious, here is a link to the ride:

http://ridewithgps.com/trips/672948

I have committed to raising $1800 so I would greatly appreciate any donations. Generous corporate sponsors are covering all the expenses so 100% of every dollar donated goes to cancer research at the James and qualifies as a charitable deduction under IRS rules. Here is a link to my page where you can donate.  

https://www.mypelotonia.org/riders_profile.jsp?MemberID=61589

Or you can go to http://pelotonia.org/ and search for rider ID DR0051.

Thank you.

Tuesday
Jun052012

Update on new attendance app

I've been working on the new attendance app quite a bit now that my semester is over so here's an update. There are two major features remaining (spreadsheet report and the random features for individuals and random groups) that I was hoping to get into the initial release along with a bunch of finishing touches that must be completed. After spending about three months of full-time work on it, I think I want to make certain Apple will approve it before I invest too much more time in it so I will likely submit it to Apple in the second or third week of June whether or not those two features are completed by then. If they aren't completed, I'll plan to get those features in the first update. This will also allow me to see what Apple announces at WWDC so I'll know what changes I may need to make for the next major iOS release. The app will require iOS 5.x or higher.

I have not added the ability to import courses and attendance records from the existing Attendance app. You will be able to export your students (and their email, phone, etc.) from the existing Attendance app as a CSV file and then import that CSV file into the new app, but it won't import the existing attendance data for the students. I don't have time to get that feature implemented in the first release and I don't know how important it really is as I suspect most people that want to use the new app will be ok with doing it at the start of a new term/quarter/semester.

At least for now, the app will not support iCloud syncing as I'm very concerned about possible data corruption when data has been changed on multiple devices. There are two ways to copy, but not sync (i.e., you can't modify the data on a second device before copying the most recent version of the data to the device) the data in the new app. You can upload a data file to Dropbox from one device and then download the data file to another device or you can send the data file via email and then open it on the other device. After the initial release has been approved, I will look into iCloud support, but I don't want to promise it at this point.

As I announced in the previous post (that also has more information about the features), assuming Apple approves the app, I will have an introductory price of $3.99 for a week or so and then the app will be $4.99. I'll make a post both here and on Twitter (@davereed) when the app is released.