Volitans Software

Facebook iPhone App Developer Quits

This hit the net yesterday, and its such a shame. The Facebook application is great, and its sad to see the lead (and only I think) developer leave.

And why did he leave? Apple’s ridiculous App Store policies. I don’t blame him. I have some ideas for iPhone apps, but the enthusiasm to do them just isn’t there. And that’s because I could spend months working my tail off on an app, only to see it delayed or even rejected. That’s no way to run a business.

I hope Apple wakes up and sees just what a mess they have created. As I have said all along, the review process needs to be scrapped. There are too many problems, from the review part, to the update part. There still can be an App Store, but Apple should have a post review- ie if there are problems they can pull it later.

That is the way it should’ve been from the start, and who knows how much better the App Store would be.

SMART Utility is a Mac Gem

Check out the nice review of SMART Utility on macworld.com.

The author does a fair job of reviewing the app, showing the positives and negatives of the app as well as SMART in general.

One note however. At the end he states:

Unfortunately, whereas SMARTReporter can run in the background, with or without a menu-bar icon, SMART Utility is a standard Mac program, which means it appears in the Dock whenever it’s running; I’d have preferred an approach similar to that of SMARTReporter. I’d also like to see additional alert options, similar to those provided by SMARTReporter; for example, e-mail alerts and the capability to launch an application or run an AppleScript. But SMART Utility’s additional drive details could make it more useful than SMARTReporter for many people.

Version 3.0 of SMART Utility (in development now) will have the ability to run in the background as a menu bar icon, and will support additional notifications, such as email and launching an application.

Ridiculous App Store Rejections

Two more ridiculous App Store rejections hit the web the past week.

The first is MacWorld’s iPhone Superguide. It was rejected because it contained the word iPhone and a picture of an iPhone. Come on Apple! ITS RUNNING ON AN IPHONE! Why they can’t use the name or picture boggles me.

The second was rejected because cartoon versions of politicians were included in the app. OH NO! People might recognize their representative! And find information on them! We can’t have that now… My favorite line for the article is:

Hard to believe that anybody could be this stupid and blind. Maybe they just have a monkey doing the approval of their apps, and he throws a dart at a dartboard with “approved” and “rejected” targets on it and whatever it hits is the fate the that app.

This just gets stupider by the day.

Long Time, No See

Its been awhile since I’ve updated this blog. The day job took some of my time, and I’ve also started a masters program. However, that doesn’t mean I’ve been ignoring my company.

SMART Utility 2.1.1 is due out soon, with some much needed bug fixes. I’ve finished up an iPhone contract, and I’m currently working on an iPhone app. I’m not really sure if I’ll finish it, since Apple is being pretty stubborn with the App Store. So we’ll see what happens there.

SMART Utility 2.1 is out!

The biggest new feature is that while the application is open, it can scan drives in the background. So users can leave it running and it will alert if a drive is failing. This is really useful with Growl installed.

Get it here:

Full release notes:

– Added preference to update drives in the background
– Added preference to only flag failing test if it is new
– Added better error handling for problems reading SMART data
– Added estimated time remaining for a test
– Fixed a bug with display of reallocated bad sectors on main window
– Now updates progress bar of SMART data update sheet

SMART Utility: 10.6 Compatibility

Since Apple is shipping 10.6 this Friday, I thought I should comment on SMART Utility and 10.6. Unfortunately, I just obtained access to ADC this week, and I have not downloaded the GM seed yet. So I do not know if SMART Utility is compatibility with 10.6. However, I do not believe there will be an issue, as SMART Utility does not use many of the API’s that could potentially cause an issue. There was no changes needed when upgrading from 10.4 to 10.5, so I am guessing the same will occur with this upgrade.

But, as soon as I get my hands on it and test it, I’ll update the blog with the results.

Update: I have installed Snow Leopard, and SMART Utility 2.0.2 is fully compatible with 10.6. I will have a new blog post with a Snow Leopard review in a week or so.

Unbelievable: Apple’s FCC Repsonse

While I personally disagree with the FCC’s involvement with the recent iPhone/Google Voice controversy, Apple’s response completely boggles the mind.

First, Apple starts off with some complete BS about the store, the number of apps, and how it functions. While the app store is much better than any prior cell phone app development and distribution, it still sucks in comparison to the Mac- especially because it doesn’t have to (more on that later).

Next, they describe three core reasons why apps are reviewed: “protect consumer privacy, safeguard children from inappropriate content, and avoid applications that degrade the core experience of the iPhone.” None of these points to good reasons why apps HAVE to be reviewed. The first will be quickly found out by the community. I’m not a child (and many iPhone users aren’t either), so I don’t need to be dictated too, so reason number 2 is bunk. And finally, the third reason assumes I can’t choose which apps DON’T hurt how my iPhone works. Actually, having MLB At Bat or AOL Radio in the background DOESN’T hurt the core experience. In fact, preventing those apps from running in the background HURTS the core experience- because I have to stop them to check email, text, or do anything else. So get off your high horse Apple.

Then they outright lie about the approval process: “When there is an issue, we try to provide the developer with helpful feedback so they can modify the application in order for us to approve it.” HAHAHA. Most of the time they just say “The app doesn’t comply with out guidelines. Its denied. Suck it, dev.” Many developers only WISH they provided helpful feedback. And finally (just in that paragraph): “95% of applications are approved within 14 days of their submission.” THAT ABSOLUTELY SUCKS! That should be 95% is approved in within ONE DAY. 14 days in an insanely long time- especially for bug fixes.

Now we start in on the answers to the questions. Q1 answer: “Contrary to published reports, Apple has not rejected the Google Voice application, and continues to study it.” THAT MEANS ITS REJECTED. If its not approved, its rejected. Period. End of story. Stop lying. Besides, it DOESN’T alter the user experience- IT CAN’T YOU MADE SURE THAT NO APP CAN AFFECT ANYTHING. Do you not use your own product Apple? Does the Phone “app” get replaced? NO. It disables visual voicemail? HOW? Only if you CALL A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT NUMBER! Jesus, its like working with 80 year olds using an iPhone. Apple must thing we are 8 year olds with an IQ of 2. Let us decide Apple.

Okay, after a bunch of non-answers to questions, we learn that there are only 40 app review. WTF? For “65,000+ apps”? That’s insane! No wonder it takes 2 freaking weeks to approve an app. Double that app, or triple it.

Oh, and this is a complete lie: “In many cases we are able to provide specific guidance about how the developer can fix the application. We also let them know they can contact the app review team or technical support, or they can write to us for further guidance.” RARELY do they provide specific guidance, usually its “Your app sucks. Try again,” to paraphrase the email received. And NEVER can the contact the app review team or write to them for further guidance. How many blog posts do developers describe it as a black hole to find out what is going on with there app. Apple is out and out LYING to the FCC.

But what is most frustrating is that none of this is necessary. There doesn’t have to be the App Store (AN App Store is okay, but not THE App Store). There doesn’t have to be a review process. There doesn’t have to be a review team. There doesn’t have to be so much bad PR for Apple.

So many problems can be solved in one fell swoop- Allow any app on the iPhone. It will not hurt anybody. It will not hurt the “children.” It will not hurt the network. It will not hurt the iPhone. But it will make the iPhone the platform nobody hates, and nobody wants to leave.

Stop being dumb and stupid, Apple. Open up the iPhone, and watch your dominance grow.

ModBusApps announces ModBusProbe 1.0.0

Calgary, Canada – Matthew Butch of Volitans Software and Rudy Boonstra of R Engineering Inc. are pleased to announce ModbusProbe, an application for Mac OS X to poll ModBus(R) enabled control system devices. ModbusProbe is an application for the Apple OS X operating system to poll ModBus enabled control system devices. The application can poll either serially via a USB adapter or via TCP, and includes the ability to poll all four types of registers and display the results in decimal, hexadecimal, binary, or integer format. The data can then be printed out for recordkeeping. In addition to reading registers, two register types can be written to. The raw data stream to and from a device can also be viewed.

In addition to this application, the cocoa framework will be offered under the GNU License as a free download to allow other Cocoa programmers the basic tools to develop ModBus applications for Mac OS X. The framework may be downloaded from the ModBusApps website.

* TCP and serial communication protocols supported
* Reading of Coils, Discrete Inputs, Holding Registers, and Input Registers supported, writing of Discrete Inputs and Input Registers
* Uses a connection list with name, type, and device ID (IP address or serial port) for maintaining connections, and list is saved with every quit
* Can poll data with a time interval set in the preferences
* Displays data in integer, hexadecimal, decimal, with binary coming soon
* Displays number of polls and successful responses
* Displays register prefix (10000x etc)
* Displays raw data stream between application and device, including color highlights per connection
* Prints out register data of open connections
* Checks for updates via Sparke Framework
* Basic application help book
* Application icon designed by Jordan Langille of OneToad

Pricing and Availability:
ModBus Probe is available as a free download in demo mode (30 day or 5 launch trial, whichever comes later). A ModBus Probe license can be purchased for $100 (USD), directly from the application or via the ModBusApps website.

ModBusApps is a partnership between Volitans Software and R Engineering. It was founded in March 2008 for the purpose of creating and released ModBus Probe and ModBusKit.

AP- Completely Misguided

The news organizations continue to miss the point. The AP thinks that they will get revenue even by people linking to their stories. However, they completely miss the point of the web- to communicate between people. Charging for even link will only mean that less people will link to the story(whether because they refuse to give into such extortion, or because they simply can’t afford it), and hence that the AP will become increasingly irrelevant. They are shooting themselves in the foot.