Blogs

Simon 2.5.5 released

Sometimes I'm just too clever for my own good. Or more likely, not clever enough.

My apps have a handy license lookup feature, where you can enter your name and licensed email address and click a Find button to look up your license if you ever need to re-enter it, without having to store the serial number somewhere. But it's long had problems handling diacritical characters (e.g. "é") on the server side, so in Simon 2.5.4 I made a change to solve that. However, that change inadvertently broke another aspect of the license lookup.

So, here's version 2.5.5. I really dislike having to do a bug fix to fix a bug fix, both because releasing is a fair bit of work, and I know that people don't like having to download an update too soon after another one. But in this case it's unavoidable.

The problem didn't affect many people, but it's the kind of problem that must be fixed even if only a few people are affected — can't have licensed users unable to enter their licenses!

Anyway, many apologies to those affected, either experiencing the problem themselves or having the hassle of downloading another update so soon. You can skip this update if you like; if you've already added your license, there's no need to update. If you're still evaluating, you could skip it too, though will probably need to upgrade if you are on 2.5.4 when you do purchase.

Download Simon 2.5.5 now!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Please note that Dejal support will probably be delayed over the next couple of days due to Thanksgiving events, but I will catch up with all queries as soon as possible after that.

Simon specials ending soon

Simon, my website and server monitoring tool, is available for discounted prices from a few places for just a little longer.

  • TheMacBundles includes a Standard license for Simon (normally $59.95) as part of the bundle — which only costs $49.95, so they're effectively paying you $10 and giving you 10 other handy apps for free! But this bundle expires in just a few days, so hurry!
  • Simon Standard is available by itself from MacUpdate Promo's extended deals for just $44.96 (25% off) for a limited time.
  • Simon Basic is also available from MacUpdate Promo for $22.46 (25% off, retail $29.95).
  • Simon Enterprise is similarly available from MacUpdate Promo for $146.25 (25% off, retail $195.00).
  • Not to be left out, existing Simon customers can upgrade from Basic to Standard or Standard to Enterprise for much less via the Dejal Store coupon "MUPUPGRADE", only till the end of the month.

Hurry, don't miss out on these great deals! This range of specials has never occurred before, and may never be repeated!

Simon 2.5.4 released

Simon, my website and server monitoring tool, has been updated to version 2.5.4. This is a minor bug-fix update, but recommended for everybody.

  • Fixed an issue with the Calendar plug-in that caused a conflict with the SMS plug-in on Snow Leopard.
  • Fixed a bug in the license regeneration feature that could cause minor back-end issues when diacritical characters are used.

Download Simon 2.5.4 now!

Caboodle 1.3.4 released

Caboodle, my lean clean snippet machine, has been updated to version 1.3.4. This has a number of improvements... and perhaps should have been called version 1.4, as it straddles the fine line between feature enhancements and bug fixes. This is a recommended update for everybody.

  • To improve performance and reduce disk space, imported PDFs, files dragged to the Dock icon, or via the Save PDF to Caboodle print option are now copied to an Attachments folder within the Caboodle data folder, and aliased to the entries. This can be disabled via a hidden preference, by entering "defaults write com.dejal.caboodle ImportAsAlias NO" in Terminal, if destired.
  • The entry icons for files dragged to the Dock icon and saved to Caboodle are now set to those files' icons.
  • Fixed an issue where entries added by those means could be lost if Caboodle was quit without making further changes.
  • Find text operations, e.g. Find Next (Cmd-G), Find Previous (Cmd-Shift-G), now work when the entries list is the active control; the entry text is made active then the operation performed.
  • Removed ancient code to move pre-1.0 data, since nobody could still be using those versions.
  • Improved the data loading to reduce the risk of using empty data if the existing data can't be loaded.
  • Now includes a 512x512 application icon.

Download Caboodle 1.3.4 now!

Narrator 2.0.6 released

I've just released an update to Narrator, my fun app to read out stories and interviews in multiple voices.

Version 2.0.6 fixes a couple of small but annoying bugs, and is a recommended update for everyone:

  • Fixed a bug where the age, gender, and sliders might not update when changing actors or characters.
  • Fixed a bug that could occasionally cause the Play button to stop working when playing/pausing or changing voice attributes quickly.

Download Narrator 2.0.6 now!

Simon Standard & BlogAssist featured in TheMacBundles

I'm pleased to announce that Dejal Simon, my flagship server monitoring app, is featured in the fifth TheMacBundles collection. Plus, for a limited time, Dejal BlogAssist, my handy HTML markup tool, is also included as a bonus app.

Dejal Simon is the essential site monitoring tool for Mac OS X. It checks servers for changes or failures, and notifies you via e-mail, sound, speech, Twitter, or other means. You can use it to track updated sites, and to alert you when an important server goes down or recovers.

The bundle includes the full Simon Standard license — normally $59.95!

BlogAssist is a handy tool to help weblog and website editing by making HTML markup easier. comes with several useful operations, including web and e-mail links, bold/italics/strikethrough/etc, LiveJournal tags, and more. But you aren't limited to those — you can add, change, or remove them via the Operations Preferences.

You can see more of them on the Simon and BlogAssist pages.

This bundle also includes 10 other fine apps, for only $49.95. A bargain! Especially since you're getting a Standard license for Simon — for less than it normally costs by itself.

The included apps are:

  • iPhoto Library Manager
  • MYStuff
  • MyTunesRSS
  • PDFClerk Pro
  • Simon
  • Spyder
  • WebPrint Plus
  • Yum
  • Yummy FTP

Plus bonuses:

  • A-Dock X
  • BlogAssist
  • FolderGlance

12 apps for just $49.95 — a saving of over 85%!

Visit TheMacBundles.com to learn more, or to take advantage of this great deal.

In App Purchase for free iPhone apps

iPhone App StoreI've been meaning to follow up on this for the past few days. Back in March, I wrote a blog post titled "Apple, please support iPhone trial apps", where I urged Apple to reconsider their position that "free apps will always be free."

I discussed how not allowing free apps to use the new In App Purchase feature introduced in iPhone OS 3.0 was very limiting — this restriction prevented free trials of apps, as is very popular in Mac software, meaning that the only way a developer could provide a trial is to have two separate apps (e.g. Lite and Pro editions), which is more hassle for the developer and customers, including issues with migrating data.

So you can imagine how pleased I was when I learnt recently that Apple has removed this restriction. Now any app can use In App Purchase, including free ones. So now the trial distribution model is finally feasible.

There is no more need to release Lite and Pro editions. Developers can release a single application as a free download, perhaps with limited features, then enable people to purchase an upgrade to the "full" edition.

There are still some restrictions. The most common trial model for Mac software is a time-limited demo, where the application lets people evaluate it for a certain time period (e.g. 14 or 30 days), then disables some functionality if still not purchased. My Mac apps do this, as do most other "shareware" apps. This is not allowed on the iPhone App Store. iPhone apps have to be fully functional, and can't disable essential features.

But there are other things that can be done, like provide a basic set of functionality, and perhaps display ads, then the purchase provides extended functionality and removes the ads. So the app remains useful forever as a free app, but becomes more powerful (and without distracting ads) if the user chooses to purchase.

This is what I plan to do for my future iPhone apps. For the secret project I'm working on now, I'll release it as a free app, with ads and perhaps some feature limits (but nothing that impinges on the usability), then offer In App Purchase to disable the ads and extend the functionality.

It looks like it'll be quite easy to set up; for this sort of situation, it appears that the purchase can be handled entirely via Apple's server, storing the purchase in the iTunes account, enabling multiple phones used by that account to use the full app (e.g. when buying a new phone).

I haven't decided on terminology for this yet... call the purchased upgrade the "Paid" or "Premium" edition, or something else.

It'll be most interesting to see how many app developers adopt this technique. I've seen a few so far, and expect it to be quite popular, especially with the indie developers who are used to this kind of distribution model.

But, thank you Apple!

A fork of DSActivityView: WTFeedbackView

iPhone developers: you may have seen my DSActivityView open source project. Another developer was inspired by it, and created his own variation, WTFeedbackView, with support for progress bars, among other changes.

Here's his introduction:

WTFeedbackView is a class to display a HUD-like view with either an activity indicator view or a progress view. It's based on DSActivityView by David Sinclair (http://www.dejal.com/developer/dsactivityview), with some significant additions and modifications.

More specifically, WTFeedbackView offers:

  • Client access through a single class, by means of class methods only, for all features;
  • Changes to the text being shown trigger an animation that resizes the HUD view appropriately;
  • Three built-in styles (like DSActivityView):
    • Simple style: displays a transparent view containing an activity indicator view next to the text explaining the ongoing activity;
    • Bezel style: displays a dark semi-transparent view containing either an activity indicator view or a progress view, above the text explaining the ongoing activity;
    • Keyboard style: same as the Bezel style, but covering only the keyboard;
  • Three built-in kinds:
    • Activity kind: displays only an activity indicator view, plus the text explaining the ongoing activity;
    • Progress kind: displays only a progress view, plus the text explaining the ongoing activity;
    • Flexible kind: contains both an activity indicator view and a progress view (plus the text explaining the ongoing activity), but displays only one at a time, on demand. This is useful when the ongoing activity has parts whose lengths are sometimes known and sometimes unknown. Rather than create a new feedback view for each part, a single one can be used, minimizing screen distractions;
  • Easy updating of the progress view, through a class method +updateProgress: (CGFloat) progress;
  • Thread-safety where needed. For instance, +updateProgress: can be safely invoked from a background thread;
  • Possibility to subclass WTFeedbackView to create custom feedback views having the general behavior of WTFeedbackView but looking differently.

Although iPhoneOS 3.x isn't a requirement, WTFeedbackView and the demo were compiled using iPhoneOS 3.1.2. They were *not* tested on any version prior to 3.x, so don't assume they will work with 2.x.

Enjoy!
Wagner

I'm hosting it for him: download now.

10/GUI

As you may have noticed, I'm fascinated with multi-touch interfaces. I just saw an interesting concept that proposes a desktop-based multi-touch system that avoids the need for touching a screen directly (which has issues of fingerprints, muscle strain, and obscuring the view), plus an interesting desktop usage metaphor.

I'm not entirely sold on it, but it definitely has some potential. I'm really not sure how well the proposed windowing system would scale — I currently have 23 windows open between all my apps, and often have more; their system of scrolling through them could be cumbersome, though the zooming out overview might be okay.

They also seem to reserve most multi-touch gestures for managing the windows, which could limit what apps can do with them.

Anyway, check it out; it's a fascinating concept, and a good description of some potential issues with more conventional approaches:

10/GUI from C. Miller on Vimeo.

I'm an introvert, and I'm okay

I read an article that really resonated with me a while back, that was written a few years ago. It was entitled "Caring for Your Introvert", written by Jonathan Rauch in The Atlantic.

In the article, he clearly defines what an introvert is, and how we are perceived by extroverts. Yes, I am most definitely an introvert. But that doesn't mean I'm antisocial or unpleasant. It just means that I and other introverts are energized by being alone, instead of by interacting with other people.

Leave an extrovert alone for two minutes and he will reach for his cell phone. In contrast, after an hour or two of being socially "on," we introverts need to turn off and recharge.

So very true. I enjoy spending time with friends and attending conferences and such, but tend to hang back and observe rather than directly interact, and even so I feel drained afterwards, exhausted by the social interactions.

People who don't know me or other introverts well might be concerned that I'm suffering in some way, perhaps feeling left out... but it's really the way I prefer things.

We tend to think before talking, whereas extroverts tend to think by talking, which is why their meetings never last less than six hours.

Amusing, but not much of an exaggeration. Which is one reason why I prefer to communicate with clients and others via email, rather than phone conversations. I want to think through my response in peace and quiet, without meaningless niceties filling in the dead air.

So if you're an extrovert and you see a quiet person, don't be concerned. We're just fine, thanks.

Nice video of Portland, Oregon

My wife and I moved from New Zealand to Portland, Oregon back in 2001. It's a great city, with a nice friendly "small town" feel but the amenities of a big city. This brief video show a lot of the great things to see and do around Portland:

iPhone Open Source: detect tap outside a button like table's Delete

This blog post has been replaced by a newer edition.

Please see blog posts on DejalView.

Sorry customers, another development blog post. :)

For a new iPhone app I'm working on (shh), I have a button that I wanted to behave like the Delete button in a table view. You know, when you tap the delete toggle to the left of a cell, a red Delete button appears. And tapping anywhere other than that button will hide it without doing anything else:

Table Delete button
(Contacts app)

I couldn't see any obvious way to do it, so asked on the iPhone Developer forums, and got a helpful reply suggesting a UIWindow subclass, overriding -sendEvent:.

I tried implementing that, but what I really wanted was to override -hitTest:withEvent:, since I wanted to block taps on views other than a specific button, and the documentation says one should always invoke the superclass of -sendEvent:.

Then I noticed that -hitTest:withEvent: is actually defined in UIView, and further experimenting with the table Delete feature showed that it appears to be implemented UITableView, since the cancel tap behavior only occurs in the table, not the navigation bar or toolbar. Besides, implementing in a UIView subclass is more focal, so a better choice.

So here is my UIView subclass to do this. It uses a delegate approach, with a protocol to declare the method:


@class DSView;

@protocol DSViewDelegate
@optional

- (UIView *)view:(DSView *)view hitTest:(CGPoint)point
withEvent:(UIEvent *)event hitView:(UIView *)hitView;

@end

And the actual subclass interface; as conventional, the delegate is not retained:


@interface DSView : UIView
{
id DS_viewDelegate;
}

@property (nonatomic, assign) id viewDelegate;

@end

With the implementation just overriding the hit test method. It simply invokes the superclass then gives the delegate a chance to change it (or perform some other action) if it implements the delegate protocol method:


#import "DSView.h"

@implementation DSView

@synthesize viewDelegate = DS_viewDelegate;

/*
hitTest:withEvent:

Overrides this method to add support for the -view:hitTest:withEvent:hitView view delegate behavior.

Written by DJS 2009-09.
*/

- (UIView *)hitTest:(CGPoint)point withEvent:(UIEvent *)event;
{
UIView *hitView = [super hitTest:point withEvent:event];

if ([self.viewDelegate respondsToSelector:
@selector(view:hitTest:withEvent:hitView:)])
return [self.viewDelegate view:self hitTest:point
withEvent:event hitView:hitView];
else
return hitView;
}

@end

To use this, simply change a container UIView to DSView in the view hierarchy, then set the delegate property to your view controller (via code or IB):

self.view.viewDelegate = self;

Then implement the -view:hitTest:withEvent:hitView: delegate method in your view controller, e.g. as follows — this will cause a tap on some special control to go through as normal, but tapping anywhere else in the view will hide the special control, without passing the tap on to whatever was actually tapped:


- (UIView *)view:(DSView *)view hitTest:(CGPoint)point
withEvent:(UIEvent *)event hitView:(UIView *)hitView;
{
if (hitView == someSpecialControl)
return hitView;

someSpecialControl.hidden = YES;

return nil;
}

I hope this is useful to someone else too.

You can get the code from my Dejal Open Source Subversion repository via this Terminal command:


svn checkout http://dejal.svn.beanstalkapp.com/open/DSView

Or browse the source directly on the web.

If you haven't seen it already, check out DSActivityView, too.

DSActivityView updated

This blog post has been replaced by a newer edition.

Please see blog posts on DejalActivityView.

DSActivityViewI've committed a minor update to the DSActivityView open source project for iPhone. See the DSActivityView introductory post for more information, including a video demo.

This update adds a showNetworkActivityIndicator boolean property. It is NO by default, but if set to YES the network activity indicator in the status bar will be displayed, and automatically hidden when the DSActivityView is removed.

You can toggle this property as needed while the activity view is in use. For example, you might have the network activity indicator appear while fetching some data from the internet, then disable it while parsing it (while the activity view is still visible).

Of course, you can easily show and hide the network activity indicator yourself, but this tweak saves having to remember to disable both it and the DSActivityView.

You can set this property via:


[DSActivityView activityViewForView:self.view].showNetworkActivityIndicator = YES;

or to toggle it on an already-visible activity view:


[DSActivityView currentActivityView].showNetworkActivityIndicator = YES;

You can get the project from my Dejal Open Source Subversion repository via this Terminal command:


svn checkout http://dejal.svn.beanstalkapp.com/open/DSActivityView

Or browse the source directly on the web.

Narrator 2.0.5 released

I'm pleased to report that we now have a solution for the Snow Leopard incompatibility of Narrator, the fun app to read out stories and interviews in multiple voices.

The issue was a bug in Snow Leopard, which prevented Narrator from open its own documents. The bug stumped Apple's Developr Technical Support engineers, and definitely seems to be a bug in the operating system itself, not in my code. But the DTS engineers finally came up with a workaround for the bug, which this update implements. Narrator can once again open its documents, and so now appears to be fully compatible with Snow Leopard.

My apologies for any inconvenience this bug may have caused.

Download Narrator 2.0.5 now!

And remember, you can still get Narrator and 11 other useful apps for just $49.95 from TheMacBundles for another few days.

Last chance for TheMacBundles!

TheMacBundles promotion is almost over! Last chance to get Dejal Narrator and 11 other great apps for just $49.95.

Narrator utilizes speech synthesis to read out the contents of a text document, using different voices for different parts. You have a range of "actors" that can portray any number of "characters", so various passages of your document are spoken with differing voices, pitches, inflections, etc. You can have it read out a play or story with appropriate voices. The words are highlighted on-screen, and there are also a couple of silent read-along options for stage directions, or for you to read out your own parts. A full license is included in the bundle, not some cut-down version.

You can see more of it on the Narrator page, or download it now to give it a try.

Note that at present Narrator has an issue on Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard): everything works okay, except that it can't open saved Narrator documents. It can open other kinds, though. I'm still waiting for help from Apple to fix this, but will release a free update to fix this as soon as possible. Of course, if you're still on Leopard, you won't be affected.

This bundle also includes 11 other fine apps, for only $49.95. A bargain!

The included apps are:

  • CrossOver Games
  • DVDRemaster Pro
  • Entourage Email Archive X
  • EastPrint
  • ImageFramer
  • Money
  • Neutrino
  • Scribbles
  • Speed Download
  • Super Flexible File Synchronizer

Plus bonuses:

  • Mac DVDRipper Pro
  • Narrator

12 apps for just $49.95 — a saving of over 85%!

Visit TheMacBundles.com to learn more, or to take advantage of this great deal before it expires. Don't delay!

Simon, Time Out, Caboodle & BlogAssist releases for Snow Leopard

Snow LeopardAnnouncing maintenance updates for Dejal Simon, my essential server monitoring tool, Time Out, my break reminder tool, Caboodle, my lean clean snippet machine, and BlogAssist, my handy HTML markup assistant.

Each update includes improvements for Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6) compatibility. I'm not aware of any remaining compatibility issues with these products — please let me know ASAP if you do find anything.

Note: Narrator is still partially incompatible with Snow Leopard. It all works, except it can't open documents saved in its native format (but can still open other kinds of documents). I have a Developer Technical Support incident request in with Apple's engineers to help me solve this, but I'm sure they're swamped with queries at present, so who knows how long they'll take to come up with a solution. The last word I have is that it seems to be a bug in Snow Leopard... so we might have to wait for 10.6.2 or later, but I'm hoping that a workaround can be found. [Edit: 10.6.1 doesn't fix it, either.] I'll do a free update as soon as a fix is available. Sorry for any inconvenience in the meantime!

In addition to Snow Leopard compatibility, Simon also includes some other changes:

  • Updated the iPhone Report Template to improve the behavior of the back button and other aspects.
  • Added a hidden preference to output debug information from the E-mail plug-in. It can be activated by entering "defaults write com.dejal.simon2 EmailDebugMode YES" in Terminal.
  • Also added a hidden E-mail plug-in preference to use the recipient's SMTP server instead of the sender's, via "defaults write com.dejal.simon2 EmailUseRecipientServer YES".
  • Added Japanese localization, thanks to Koichi Matsumoto.

Download now:

Narrator and 11 other apps in TheMacBundles

I'm pleased to announce that Dejal Narrator, my fun app to read out stories and interviews in multiple voices, is included as a bonus in the fourth TheMacBundles collection.

Narrator utilizes speech synthesis to read out the contents of a text document, using different voices for different parts. You have a range of "actors" that can portray any number of "characters", so various passages of your document are spoken with differing voices, pitches, inflections, etc. You can have it read out a play or story with appropriate voices. The words are highlighted on-screen, and there are also a couple of silent read-along options for stage directions, or for you to read out your own parts. A full license is included in the bundle, not some cut-down version.

You can see more of it on the Narrator page, or download it now to give it a try.

Note that at present Narrator has an issue on Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard): everything works okay, except that it can't open saved Narrator documents. It can open other kinds, though. I'm waiting for help from Apple to fix this, but will release a free update to fix this as soon as possible. Of course, if you're still on Leopard, you won't be affected.

This bundle also includes 11 other fine apps, for only $49.95. A bargain!

The included apps are:

  • CrossOver Games
  • DVDRemaster Pro
  • Entourage Email Archive X
  • EastPrint
  • ImageFramer
  • Money
  • Neutrino
  • Scribbles
  • Speed Download
  • Super Flexible File Synchronizer

Plus bonuses:

  • Mac DVDRipper Pro
  • Narrator

12 apps for just $49.95 — a saving of over 85%!

Visit TheMacBundles.com to learn more, or to take advantage of this great deal.

Dejal apps on Snow Leopard

Snow LeopardGood news: most Dejal apps work fine on Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6).

One issue that you may find with Caboodle and BlogAssist is that the Services menu has been enhanced, and the items for those apps might be disabled by default. You can re-enable them via the Keyboard Shortcuts page of the Keyboard system preferences.

However, it's not all good news. Narrator seems to be broken on Snowy. Opening a document fails, whether it was saved on Leopard or Snow Leopard. The document opens, but no content is loaded. It still opens version 1 documents fine, but not version 2's, which is rather a problem.

I've spent several hours last night and this morning trying to figure out what the problem is, without any luck so far. I'll keep on it, but just wanted to warn anyone using Narrator.

Help cure cancer with the Pan-Mass Challenge software bundles

Once again, Seth Dillingham is offering bundles as a fund-raiser for the Pan-Mass Challenge, which supports cancer research and treatment. A very worthy cause.

Unlike typical software bundles, where hundreds or thousands of people might get a fixed collection of apps at a discount, this one is a bit different: you can use his Bundle Builder site to make your personal ideal bundle of iPhone and/or Mac apps, and offer your own price for it.

I am happy to participate in this effort again this year. A Standard license is available for Dejal Simon, my essential server monitoring tool, along with licenses for Dejal Caboodle, my lean clean snippet machine, Dejal Narrator, my fun app to speak stories in multiple voices, and Dejal BlogAssist, my handy HTML markup tool. Plus hundreds of other great products from other developers.

Go ahead, take a look, and put together your ideal bundle of apps, and help fight cancer!

Narrator 2.0.4 released

Narrator, my fun text-to-speech tool to read out stories or interviews in multiple voices, has now been updated to version 2.0.4.

It includes:

  • Fixed an issue with the Preferences window, where edits might not be saved when quitting with the window still open (specifically when an edit is still active).
  • Fixed an issue that could prevent finding licenses in very rare circumstances.
  • Updated the built-in Kagi purchasing tool to the latest version, which fixes some issues with Leopard.

Download Narrator 2.0.4 now!

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