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. Why does a silly site like ActorAgeCheck.com need secure access? I want to make sure that the data you’re being served is the data I intended to serve you!

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.

ActorAgeCheck.com 1.0.35 website update

An update has been pushed out to ActorAgeCheck.com.

This is a very minor update that mainly focuses on server-side adjustments to the caching system to improve response time and ensures users are not waiting too long for a response.

An overhaul is still planned and I should have more details about that shortly.

This update:

  • Made some adjustments to the server side database to make sure all pages are responsive and served as quickly as possible. Rocket Loader can only do so much, but we need to get the content to it as quickly as possible.
  • Adjusted caching policies to make sure CloudFlare is served cached data whenever possible to ensure the quickest response time; however, we’ve adjusted cache time-to-live to make sure users are getting the latest data.
  • Client side: CSS improvements for older browsers
  • Client side: CSS improvements for older mobile devices (mainly performance)
  • Client side: Some pages were displaying an error for some images. This has been corrected with some JavaScript checks.

Speech Jammer 4.1.2 Released

Speech Jammer 4.1.2 has been reviewed and approved by Apple and is now available on the iOS App Store.

This is a very minor update that focuses on reliability improvements and UI improvements. I have exciting things planned in the new year and can’t wait to share the overhauled app with you all. For now, Speech Jammer has been updated to support the newest iPhone and creates uniformity of the UI.

This update:

  • Adds support for the iPhone XS Max
  • Updated the UI on the shared recordings pages to now share the same overall look and feel of the new UX introduced in Speech Jammer 4.0
  • Updates frameworks
  • Addresses minor issues

This update was not phased and is available to all users immediately. Users with automatic updates should see the update happen within the next 24 hours.

Side note
Speech Jammer 4.1.1 was released on December 13th 2018. It included minor changes to frameworks and other UI enhancements. To the end user, these changes were minimal and unimportant and therefore does not have an announcement on the blog.

Start Usage Meter 2.5.1 released

Start Usage Meter 2.5.1 has been reviewed and approved by Apple and is now available on the Mac App Store.

This update focuses on minor UI improvements, compatibility with older versions of macOS, and adds some clarifying warning messages to the app. This version is available for and compatible with OS X 10.7 Lion through macOS 10.14 Mojave, continuing my commitment to making sure the app works with as many versions of macOS as possible.

This update:

  • Addresses an issue which could cause the Daily Usage window to display a dark-mode background on macOS 10.13 High Sierra and earlier
  • Added a new warning on the Daily Usage window to warn when the user is not using a compatible connection and the app cannot retrieve usage details
  • Made some minor tweaks to improve compatibility across all versions of macOS

Start Usage Meter 2.5 released

Introducing Dark Mode in Start Usage Meter 2.5 on macOS Mojave

Start Usage Meter 2.5 has been reviewed and approved by Apple and is now available on the Mac App Store.

This update adds compatibility with macOS Mojave’s Dark Mode and focuses on minor usability improvements, as well as fixing an issue that caused an informational message to be inadvertently displayed numerous times on the daily usage window (in some cases). The app now knows you don’t need the same information 3+ times.

Sorry for the delay in getting this update out (just over 2 weeks after macOS Mojave was released. It should have been earlier, and I know better from now on 😀). This update required some refactoring in order to support Dark Mode and be more context-aware for future macOS enhancements that are inevitably going to arrive. Some more details about the UI enhancements in Start Usage Meter 2.5:

About Dark Mode
macOS Mojave introduces Dark Mode for the Mac, which provides a darker appearance for UI items. Start Usage Meter 2.5 introduces support for Dark Mode across the app (including the daily usage window). There’s nothing you need to do, since Start Usage Meter will detect whether Dark Mode is enabled, and automatically show the darker interface.

About the usability improvement
As mentioned, this update includes usability improvements. This primarily surrounds the ability to identify which connection you currently have selected at a quick glance, without leaving the window you’re on. For example, the Usage Details window now displays the currently selected network on the titlebar of the window. You no longer need to click the submenu on the macOS menu bar and scroll through the list to identify your currently selected network.

It seems like a small change; however, this makes sure that the app gives you all the information you need at a quick glance, without needing to tediously click through menus to get the critical information you need.

OS Support Details
Keeping up with my goal of making sure Start Usage Meter supports all versions of macOS (ahem. OS X) going back to OS X 10.7 Lion, Start Usage Meter 2.5 also supports all versions of Mac OS X back to OS X Lion. As long as nothing forces me to increase my deployment target (i.e. Xcode requires all new builds with a new API to target OS X 10.8 or higher), I will continue to build in legacy support in the app as long as it doesn’t hinder the experience on newer versions of macOS. As always, the latest version of macOS runs Start Usage Meter the best.

ActorAgeCheck 1.0.34 website update

An update has been pushed out to ActorAgeCheck.com. This update made some changes to the core foundation of the website and its backend in preparations for a big overhaul that I first mentioned in the last website update.

Since the last update, I’ve made progress on all the items I had previously mentioned, including the full deprecation of the old image subdomain.

Todays update consists primarily of backend overhauls in preparation for a completely redesigned and vastly improved version of the site. These changes are mostly on the backend; however, since the current iteration of the website is able to utilize the new backend, there are some changes on the frontend (as the backend does a lot of content generation). As a result, the current website (1.0.34) is utilizing some components from the new backend, which results in a slight change to how some content is presented on the current site.

Some temporary changes as I prepare to launch the new site:

  • TV Shows are referenced in some places on the site. It is pulling these references from the new backend; however, the functionality is not yet complete and the current frontend cannot interface with the new responses from the backend to actually display any TV Show content. TV Show search-ability and information will become available when the new website launches, and won’t be available prior to that.
  • Some API’s are returning slightly different responses with modified organization. This is temporary while the old frontend still exists. Once the website is completely overhauled, the responses will return to the original organization.
  • Some API’s have become exposed but are not used on the current frontend. For example: search autocomplete. The frontend has exposed a new script that returns autocomplete results for the search field. It is in development and testing and is not currently active. Like the TV Show functionality, this feature will become available when the new website launches. You should not be calling it from your scripts, since its state is likely to change prior to launch.

Speech Jammer 4.1 released

Speech Jammer 4.1 has been reviewed and approved by Apple and is now available on the iOS App Store.

This update to Speech Jammer focuses on stability and usability improvements rather than introducing new features. It includes some fixes to recording sharing, some improvements to the initial starting delay, improvements to AirPods compatibility, and updates core SDK’s that the app relies on.

This update:

  • Fixes an issue that could cause the upload to fail (but appear to succeed) when sharing a recording. Recordings of any size should now share properly once again!
  • Reduced the default/initial delay time to help have a larger impact and crank up the fun 100% (that number was arbitrarily made up, but I’ll bet it is somewhat accurate)
  • Improvements to AirPods compatibility and improves compatibility with other Bluetooth headphones. More enhancements coming soon!
  • Updated core SDK’s to improve reliability, stability, and performance

This update was set as a phased release and will release to users in phases over 1 week. You can force the update by opening the App Store and manually updating Speech Jammer.