Category Archives: Software

Software that I’ve written (or at least started writing).

Factfulness

I didn’t mean to immediately buy Hans Rosling’s “Factfulness“. I saw it in a “recommended reads” list (both Bill Gates and Barak Obama suggested it, if I remember correctly), thought it sounded interesting and went to Amazon to add it to my wish list. Fat fingers meant that I tapped the “buy” button instead.

Anyway. As an antidote to all the bad news around at the moment, I decided to read it right away. The narrative that the world is getting worse by many measures, this book argues, is false. I want to believe that we’re progressing but the pictures on TV of Trump and Brexit, famine and war make it hard to accept.

It starts with a questionnaire and, without wishing to steal the book’s thunder, most people will do incredibly badly at it. Worse, in fact, than merely picking answers at random, or “the chimps” as the book calls it.

I’d like to think that I’m better informed than many, if not than the general public than some chimps, but I still did badly!

The book continues with a list of errors that we all make, examples of them and how to spot and avoid them in the future. It sounds dry but it isn’t. Hans Rosling is humble, keen to draw attention both to where he made mistakes and where he made a difference. If anything, his modesty often sounds misplaced. I think it’s fair to say that he had more achievements than failures.

“I don’t tell you not to worry. I tell you to worry about the right things.”

The curse of this book, if there is one, is that we all think we’re well informed and that we don’t need to read it. The numbers show that we’re wrong. I hope that doesn’t make it the least read, most important book I’ve picked this year!

ShareEverywhere

ShareEverwhere main screen
ShareEverwhere main screen

I was so busy when it came out that I never quite got around to blogging about it here: I have a new app out! It’s called ShareEverywhere. It is built exclusively for iOS 8 and uses the new, built-in “share” functionality, allowing you to share to a good number of services from any app that uses the standard share button.

When I first wrote it, I wasn’t sure how many, if any, developers would build share widgets into their apps. Now that we know the answer is “a lot of them,” I still use ShareEverywhere because it beats having a dozen widgets hiding in your action menu. And there are still services, like Pinboard.in, that don’t have their own native apps.

It’s available now in the App Store for your iPhone or iPad. It costs £1.49, $1.99, €1.79 or your local equivalent.

www.cut 3.0

I’m very pleased to announce the new version of www.cut, a major release including an almost complete rewrite of all the UI code and a bunch of stuff under the hood. You don’t care about that, but it does bring you iPad support, the ability to lengthen already shortened URLs and the ability to sync your settings between devices using iCloud.

The iCloud bit, as with lots of stuff under the hood, means that it will only work on devices that run iOS5.

On the “business” side, www.cut is no longer free. It is now a “tier one” app, that means 99 cents, 69 pence or your local equivalent.

The reason for this change is two-fold: advertising, despite what you may have heard, is not a massive money-spinner unless you have millions of users. www.cut, you won’t be surprised to hear, has nowhere near that. Secondly, and more importantly in some ways, I just don’t like adverts. I almost always pay for apps in preference to using an ad supported version. I think the app is better without them.

With the change, I have tried to be as fair as I can. All existing users will get the upgrade for free, including those who only have the free version. I thought it better to be generous to early adopters that screw over the people who actually upgraded.

All New!

This week I’ve released updates to all three of my iPhone and iPad apps.

Yummy and Yummy Browser, my Delicious.com client, see the release of a big update: version 2.6.0. It includes a completely new bookmark viewing and editing screen, a new bookmark list view, updates to help syncing reliability and lots of smaller tweaks and updates. It’s the biggest gap between any two major releases but I think is a good one.

The www.cut update is much smaller, but includes the new Facebook API (looks the same!) and some minor aesthetic tweaks.

Hidden, and not mentioned in the release notes for any of the apps, is a crash reporter. Apple do push crash logs into their developer interface, but they do seem to skip some and it only ever happens when users sync their phones to iTunes — something that people seem to be doing less and less. I’ve seen reviews and support mails from people mentioning crashes but not seen the crash reports — which makes it really difficult to diagnose a problem. Hopefully you’ll never see it, but now they’ll prompt you to send the log directly to me after a crash.

However, even with that it’s still worth pinging me a support email if you see something amiss. Firstly, if it doesn’t crash I still won’t see it. And, secondly, the crash reports come without any context. Seeing which line of code is causing a problem is very useful but without knowing how you get there it can be very difficult to correctly diagnose and fix a problem.

Translations

www.cut Icon
One of the nice things about Apple’s App Store for iOS devices is that it’s available in every country that has the iPhone. One of the unfortunate things is that the people in most of those countries don’t speak English as a first language and I, as a typical Englishman, know no other languages.

Then I heard about GetLocalization (whose name needs localising!), a site which allows you to “crowd-source” translations. I honestly don’t know if it will work but I thought it was a good idea and something worth trying and supporting.

To that end I have uploaded the text used in www.cut and added the languages that I think there would be the most benefit in having. I would be happy if people added others, especially if the suggestion came with some translations!

My guess is that I will need to change some of the text in the application itself. For example, one block looks like this: “%1$i character%2$@ remaining.” When viewed on the iPhone looks like either “100 characters remaining” or “1 character remaining” but I’m sure that form of pluralisation doesn’t work in most languages. Changing it is not a problem but I will need suggestions as to what the “generic” version should be. Or do I need two versions, one for singular and one for plural?

So far I have only added www.cut and I’m classifying it as an experiment, though if it works well I will likely use the same method for Yummy.

Thanks for your help.

www.cut 2.0

A new version of my handy URL shortening app for iPhone and iPod touch has just hit Apple’s App Store. Please go and download it — it’s free!

www.cut main screen

I’ve added to the services that were supported in the previous version and now www.cut supports nine shortening services:

Also new in version 2.0 is a “URL Scheme.” This is a technical name for something that’s very useful. Picture the scene: you’re in Safari and you want to send the current URL to www.cut. Previously you had to copy the URL to the clipboard and manually launch it. Now, all you need to do is add “wwwcut:” to the beginning of the URL and www.cut launches automatically.

For example, if you’re looking at “http://www.apple.com/”, you would edit the URL to be “wwwcut:http://www.apple.com/” and press “go.”

When I use www.cut, most of the time I’m going to send a link to Twitter or Facebook. So in this new version there is the option to do just that within www.cut. It’s available as an in-app-purchase and also removes the adverts.

Another change you might see is if you enter something that looks like a URL but, technically, isn’t one, www.cut will suggest a correction. Another example, say you enter “www.apple.com”. I know that’s what they put on the TV and posters, but it’s not really a URL. www.cut will ask if you really meant “http://www.apple.com”.

Unfortunately, URL shortening is a tough business and a couple of the services that were available in version 1.0 are no longer operating. This means that you can no longer use In the 2.0 release, tr.im or cli.gs. If you upgrade, www.cut will switch you back to using is.gd, but you can easily switch.