ActorAgeCheck 1.0.39 website update

ActorAgeCheck.com has received a minor update today to improve speed and functionality. A new version is still on the way, but this minor update has some large backend changes that should result in a much faster experience and will pave the way for future development.

I hope everyone stays safe and healthy!

This update:

  • Adds support for special characters in the search field, and improves foreign-alphabet compatibility for person pages as well as movie pages
  • Improvements to foreign language display
  • A brand new caching system has been activated.
    • The previous caching system worked well; however, it made two calls to the cache system for every request in an effort to reduce processing time and get data processed in the backend quicker. This only reduced processing time in some scenarios, and actually increased it in scenarios where the cache data was valid. I felt this could be streamlined, so the new caching system is based on a database architecture and a single system call is now made for each cache request, with all logic handled in one sweep. The difference should be very noticeable when the site is under stress.

      Note: This new cache system will be monitored to ensure it is improving site responsiveness, and not hindering it.

Start Usage Meter 2.5.6 Released

New Start Usage Meter icon for macOS

Start Usage Meter 2.5.6 has been reviewed and approved by Apple and is now available on the Mac App Store.

This update includes improvements to the user interface. Specifically, this update:

  • Contains improvements to the Daily Usage window user interface. This includes (but is not limited to) correcting UI glitches that result in some rows appearing bold when they should not and improving spacing for better readability.
  • Added information text to provide clarity about the highlighted row on the Daily Usage window.
  • The Daily Usage window will now use the operating system’s default system font.

I hope everyone is staying safe during these trying times.

This update remains compatible with all releases of OS X from OS X Lion to macOS Catalina as of writing. I will always work to maintain compatibility with older versions of OS X for as long as I can; however, the best Start Usage Meter experience is on the latest version of macOS.

Speech Jammer 5.0.1 released

Speech Jammer 5.0.1 has been reviewed and approved by Apple and is now available on the iOS App Store.

This update builds upon the improvements in Speech Jammer 5.0 and brings big improvements to Bluetooth headphone support and quality, along with various bug fixes. Specifically, Speech Jammer 5.0.1 has the following features:

  • Fixed a crash that would occur if the device had an active phone call (including FaceTime or VoIP). Added a warning in these situations to let the user know that they need to hang up.
  • Speech Jammer will now default to the devices speaker rather than receiver if no headphones are connected
  • Greatly increased Bluetooth audio quality
  • Improved Bluetooth headphone compatibility
  • Increased audio volume (should help in some scenarios)
  • Fixed an issue that caused recordings to fail to export (archive) properly in some cases. Recording archiving should now be extremely reliable.

Speech Jammer 5.0 released

Speech Jammer 5.0 has been reviewed and approved by Apple and is now available on the iOS App Store.

This update contains an all-new audio engine that should result in an all around better experience that is more stable. This also brings much anticipated new features like better Bluetooth headphone support, and multitasking! Speech Jammer 5.1 will be launching shortly with a revamped iPad app!

Feature list for Speech Jammer 5.0

Introducing an all-new modern audio engine:

  • This should result in a much more stable experience.
  • Full Bluetooth headphone support is here! AirPods, and other Bluetooth headphone users rejoice!
  • Bluetooth headphones can now be used without needing to manually enable Bluetooth support
  • Swap between headphones without needing to restart the app

Multitasking support has arrived!

  • You can now close Speech Jammer and continue to experience the Speech Jammer effect while using other apps on your device!

Export all recordings at once, while offline

  • Recordings can now be exported into an archive for easier sharing or backup of multiple recordings at once. You no longer need to share each recording individually. Recordings are converted to m4a and zipped up.
  • Archived recording sharing can now be done while offline (e.g. AirDrop a zipped package of all your recordings, or share to another app)

Various improvements

  • Delay can now be increased to a higher amount than before
  • Delay setting is now saved between app launches and doesn’t need to be set each time you use the app
  • Updated all frameworks in the app to modern versions
  • Changed the name from the ambiguous “Jammer” to “Speech Jammer” in various areas of iOS to avoid confusion
  • Haptic feedback (where available) is now used in the app for an improved user experience
  • Improved design and user interface (including on larger-screen devices)
  • Updated FAQ system that is easier to maintain, which means it’ll be updated more frequently with relevant tips and answers to common questions
  • Improvements to VoiceOver support
  • Updated to support the latest iOS improvements
  • Fixed an issue that prevented the copying of a link to a shared recording
  • Fixed an issue that prevented shared recording links from properly sending to a selected app or destination
  • Fixed an issue that allowed recording playback while Speech Jammer was active when accessing recordings from the Home Screen quick actions
  • Various bug fixes and performance improvements
  • Phone calls and FaceTime calls will still temporarily interrupt Speech Jammer; however, Speech Jammer will be able to automatically resume after the call ends
  • Localization improvements (fixed some English words appearing in other languages)

Start Usage Meter 2.5.5 Released

New Start Usage Meter icon for macOS

Start Usage Meter 2.5.5 has been reviewed and approved by Apple and is now available on the Mac App Store.

This update focuses on design and UI improvements. The update also changes default behaviour by modifying default settings. This update:

  • Adjusts the default update interval to every 2 hours. This will not impact users who have explicitly selected a different update interval, and updating every hour remains a selectable option; however, 2 hours is now the default.
    • This change was made to lessen the amount of times the app calls out to the Start.ca server while still providing meaningful updates. Two hours adds one additional hour to the previous update time, but it will also provide a larger glimpse of changes to data usage throughout the day.
  • Changes all menu dropdown display options to active by default to provide the most information possible. Previously, only the Downloaded (Quota/Grace) data was visible in the drop-down menu by default.
    • This change was made to provide more meaningful information at a quick glance and gives better visibility to these options for new users who may not have been aware of their availability. This should not impact users who have explicitly disabled menu dropdown options, and users may return to the previous behaviour by opening the Preferences window and deselecting desired display options.
  • New icon to match the new design patterns in the latest macOS release.
  • UI tweaks to improve clarity
  • Now built using the latest macOS Catalina technology.

If you have any questions or suggestions relating to these changes, feel free to email me at dwight@dwightd.com. All default behaviour changes that were made in Start Usage Meter 2.5.5 are reversible through the preferences window, and any explicitly set preferences prior to the update will be retained.

ActorAgeCheck.com 1.0.38 website update

Update (November 6th 2019)
As planned, the image subdomain has been completely disabled and will now show an error message. Please update your usage accordingly. I do not have any information at this time about whether it will return.

The current iteration of ActorAgeCheck.com has received a minor update to assist with performance and responsiveness. It also fixes a few issues with images, along with adding some usability enhancements.

This update:

  • Improves clarity when visiting a new movie or actor page from the cast list on a movie page or the credits list on an actor page. The new page will now highlight and scroll to the relevant movie or individual, which should greatly improve the usability of the site.
  • Improvements to the caching system, which now allows credits and cast lists to be cached.
  • Made changes to allow text input on the search field while a page is still loading. Prior to this release, the search bar would not accept input until every image and script has finished loading.
  • Reverted image serving to the previous image backend. Due to changes with the image subdomain backend, I’ve delegated image serving back to the https://actoragecheck.com/image/xxx.png URI. As of writing, the image subdomain will remain unavailable for the foreseeable future.
  • Slightly increased the recently searched cool down period
    This change has been reverted as of November 10th 2019

As always, if you have any feedback or suggestions on what I can do to improve ActorAgeCheck.com, please reach out to me at feedback@actoragecheck.com. All feedback is welcome and will be taken into consideration (particularly during the development of the overhauled site)

Start Usage Meter 2.5.4 released (merged with 2.5.3 announcement)

Start Usage Meter 2.5.4 has been reviewed and approved by Apple and is now available on the Mac App Store.

Start Usage Meter 2.5.3 was re-released as 2.5.4 with a fix for an issue that may cause the app to continue to display 0MB while loading data, instead of the cleaner Start.ca text.

This update focusses on improvements to the menu bar and other UI elements of the app while data is being retrieved from the Start.ca server. It also contains bug fixes for rare cases where the next update time may be incorrect. Specifically, this update:

  • Improved the initial launch experience by preventing the menu bar from rapidly displaying 0MB momentarily while actual usage data is retrieved from Start.ca servers
  • Improved the menu bar experience while switching connections or updating the current connection usage data. The menu bar will now momentarily show Start.ca, instead of previous usage data. This improvement should make it much easier to see when Start Usage Meter is actively updating usage data information.
  • Fixed an issue that could cause the next scheduled update time to be displayed incorrectly when changing the update interval while multiple keys are present
  • Improved initial setup handling and app behaviour when all keys are removed (the app should no longer display an error before you hit “Save and Check Usage.” This process is now automated)
  • Fixed an issue that caused the currently selected key text field in preferences to become empty after removing a key (even if another key is available to use)
  • Improvements to the user experience when removing keys to make sure old data is not presented to the user when it is no longer relevant after a key has been removed
  • Various improvements to efficiency, particularly with the initial app launch. The app has been streamlined to prevent unnecessary duplicate requests, which should result in a ‘snappier’ app experience
  • UI improvements and optimization to handling of multiple keys

macOS Compatibility Report
To provide a quick update on my commitment to supporting as many macOS versions as possible, Start Usage Meter 2.5.4 supports versions of OS X dating back to OS X 10.7 Lion up to macOS 10.15 Catalina.

ActorAgeCheck.com 1.0.37 website update

ActorAgeCheck.com has received a minor update today in preparation for the imminent revamp. This update fixes a few issues relating to HTTP to HTTPS redirection.

This update:

  • Addresses an issue that could cause URL’s to lose their easier-to-read permalink on HTTP to HTTPS redirection situations.
  • Addresses an issue which caused recently searched links to be presented as non-secure HTTP links even if you’re visiting the secure site.
  • Added failsafes to core components to prevent non-HTTPS access. This ensures content is always served securely.

Start Usage Meter 2.5.2 released

Start Usage Meter 2.5.2 has been reviewed and approved by Apple and is now available on the Mac App Store.

This update focuses on UI improvements throughout the app. Specifically, this update includes:

UI Improvements to the Daily Usage Window
UI Improvements to the Daily Usage window
  • UI Improvements to the daily usage window (cleaned up the layout)
  • Updates to the daily usage window which now highlights the current day in a light green colour to make it easier to get a quick glance of todays usage
  • Various improvements to performance and reliability
  • Improvements to clarity of informational text throughout the app
  • UI Improvements on the detailed usage window, particularly when the app is on top of a bright window in the background

macOS Compatibility Report
To provide a quick update on my commitment to supporting as many macOS versions as possible, Start Usage Meter 2.5.2 supports versions of OS X dating back to OS X 10.7 Lion up to macOS 10.14 Mojave.

ActorAgeCheck.com 1.0.36 website update

UPDATE (Feb 3 2019)
Dynamic reCAPTCHA enabled
A recent server side update has been pushed out that now automatically enables and disables reCAPTCHA as deemed necessary by the risk level determined by incoming connections. This means the entire reCAPTCHA system will be disabled unless suspicious activity is detected that the server cannot mitigate (in which case, reCAPTCHA will activate and you may have to solve a captcha). This means in cases where the server does not see any issues, there will be no reCAPTCHA scripts sent by the server and no verification completed.

ActorAgeCheck.com has been updated to enhance the security and performance of the website. This update is a precursor to the new overhaul of the website, and has two goals: combat bots to improve performance by giving server power to those who need it (humans, i.e. you, the user), as well as server-side enhancements to the caching system.

This update focuses on two new changes to the sites infrastructure and client-side code, and marks one of the final updates of the original website release prior to the overhaul. This update:

Adds reCAPTCHA to the search system
I know, I know, most people aren’t a huge fan of those impromptu quizzes to prove you’re not the worlds greatest artificial intelligence. “Select the traffic lights” aren’t fun, but I’ve decided it’s a necessary addition as I continue to improve the site, especially with the new features coming in the major update. This reCAPTCHA protection applies to the search system on the site (searching for actors/movies/etc) and not individual pages. reCAPTCHA is smart enough that if it trusts you, you shouldn’t even notice this change.
An additional note is visible at the bottom of this post if you’re using an API

Cache enhancement and clearing
The cached data collected over the past few weeks has been reset to prevent issues with any code changes in this push.

API changes
There are no changes to the API with the reCAPTCHA change. We suggest implementing reCAPTCHA on your end, but there are no changes to the actual use of the API itself. No limits and no reCAPTCHA requirement.