Update as of August 1st 2020 at 1:57AM Eastern Thanks for your patience. This maintenance is complete and all services should be operational once again. Stay tuned for upcoming app updates very soon! Stay safe!
The shared recordings server is currently undergoing maintenance to resolve a server-side issue. During this time, some server-based functionality of the app will be unavailable (e.g. individual recording sharing).
This is to resolve a minor backend issue with recording file handling. The server is transferring files successfully and sharing properly with an encrypted connection; however, some recordings were being queued indefinitely at the first server that was chosen for the upload. This does not result in any user facing problems, but means that data is being unnecessarily duplicated. There is no security or privacy concern as the whole process is encrypted and files queued for sharing at the first server are never facing the public internet.
I would just like to fix the issue as I prepare for some big upcoming changes.
Fresh off the heels of the WWDC20 Keynote, I figured it’d be a good opportunity to provide a little bit of an update on some of the apps I currently maintain. I’ve already made a commitment earlier this year to focus on modernizing my apps codebase.
Considering the huge announcement that Apple let loose regarding the shift to Apple-based SoC’s for Mac (and the move away from the macOS/OS X 10.x naming scheme), I wanted to provide a little insight into my current plans for existing apps (which is a relatively big undertaking, albeit not as big as the one Apple has planned for their Mac lineup!)
Speech Jammer Speech Jammer 5.0 was released earlier this year after quite a bit of testing and development. It utilizes an entirely new audio engine and added a few big features to help make sharing easier. However, the focus of Speech Jammer 5.0 was modernization. For example, 5.0 moved the app to a more modern core that allows the app to utilize proper multi-tasking support. This means that users can now leave the app and continue to experience the app, even with it closed.
Speech Jammer 5.0 was just the beginning. Although there were many optimizations and many new features added in 5.0, my plan for Speech Jammer 5.x is to re-write many parts of the app for efficiency and to make sure that it’s ready for the future. The primary goal here is to move Speech Jammer entirely to Swift. Essentially, 5.x is a period of refinement.
The real work that went into Speech Jammer 5.1 is under the hood. While some components of Speech Jammer were written, or re-written at some point in Swift (namely the tongue twister feature, the FAQ system, the support system, and shared link feature), most components are still based in Objective-C. This isn’t inherently a bad thing at all, but the codebase is getting a little long in the tooth and could use some cleanup beside an overhaul, and this is a perfect opportunity to move Speech Jammer onto a modern programming language and have it better aimed for the future.
Speech Jammer 5.1 and the move to Swift Speech Jammer 5.1 is scheduled to be released very shortly some new features and reliability improvements. Notably, it adds a new options system that allows customization of many features of the app. It also allows users to use the microphone on their Bluetooth headphones (or, using the new options system, use their devices microphone for the highest quality audio). There are a lot of other options and feature requests that were implemented in this upcoming update, but we’ll discuss that in the update blog post when it’s released.
Speech Jammer 5.1 brings most parts of the app completely into the Swift world. The recordings service, sharing service, archiving service, and file management service have all been completely re-written in Swift (including the UI controller). This also brings some major efficiency improvements that can be felt throughout the app.
Speech Jammer 5.2 and beyond Speech Jammer 5.1 should be released shortly, and it brings with it a new deployment target of iOS 10 or later. It is almost entirely written in Swift (sub the main core), and lays the groundwork for the future. Speech Jammer 5.2 is also under development for release later this year, which will (hopefully) have the entire app completely moved over to Swift with a new codebase. Of course, there will be new features available with it, but the focus of this post is to provide a little bit of an update on the big transition I’ve been working on.
By moving to Swift, I can make sure that the app is ready for the future. This means I can quickly implement new features in new versions of iOS, and make sure that the app is using the fastest possible libraries.
Start Usage Meter Usage Meter for the greatest ISP ever Start Usage Meter is another project that I’ve wanted to focus a lot of my efforts on. I’ll have some more updates on it shortly; however, I’m pretty happy with where it is right now. Version 2.5.7 will be released within a few weeks containing some very minor tweaks and enhancements.
There are a lot of pieces of Start Usage Meter that use outdated or deprecated practices. For example, it doesn’t use base localization, it uses some heavier API’s, and doesn’t have a single line written in Swift. These decisions were all intentional in an effort to offer full support going back to OS X Lion. It still provides a really modern app experience on the latest operating systems, but will still run on OS X 10.7. I would still like to move it onto a more modern codebase (written in Swift) and update it, and am currently deciding the best approach. Any changes to the deprecated practices I’m currently using, will likely mean a deployment target of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion or later.
Moving Start Usage Meter forward My current plan is to test, release, and sit on Start Usage Meter 2.5.7 to make sure it is running smoothly and without issue. At some point after its release, I am going to stamp Start Usage Meter 2.5.7 with the “battle-tested” sticker and fork it, effectively creating two separate app builds. At that time, Start Usage Meter 2.6 will be born and will be a more modern version without support for the oldest versions of macOS. It will gain all the new features which, if possible, will be ported back to the 2.5.7 version and made available through my website for those on older versions of OS X. Otherwise, 2.5.7 will receive bug fix build updates only.
I don’t have a date in mind for this yet; however, I did want to make it clear that 2.5.7 will still be available through my website as a signed, sandboxed, and notarized app. It will receive updates alongside the new versions (which may contain new features, or just back ported bug fixes). Version 2.6 and later will still be distributed through the Mac App Store and will be the best experience you can receive, so if you can run it, stay on that build path. Start Usage Meter 2.6 will also support Apple Silicon-based Mac’s natively and will also support macOS Big Sur along with the UI improvements that come with it.
Summary of plans
5.x has a goal of refinement and improvements. Building a stronger codebase for the future
5.1 will be released and will have transitioned most of the app to Swift
5.2 will have the entire app using Swift and modern API’s
5.1 and later will require iOS 10 or later (this is potentially a moving target)
I plan to support the app on Apple Silicon-based Mac’s
The goal of Speech Jammer 5.x has always been to modernize the codebase, and that work will continue through the 5.x release cycle.
Start Usage Meter
Start Usage Meter 2.5.7 to be released shortly with tweaks and enhancements
Start Usage Meter 2.5.7 (after extended testing) will branch off into a separate release cycle with support going back to OS X 10.7 Lion
Start Usage Meter 2.6 will be created and updated through the Mac App Store for more modern versions of macOS
Mac App Store version will support Apple Silicon-based Mac’s natively and macOS Big Sur UI changes
2.5.7 will receive back-ported improvements and will be distributed as a signed, notarized app on my website for versions of macOS going back to OS X 10.7 Lion.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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)
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)
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 email@example.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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. All feedback is welcome and will be taken into consideration (particularly during the development of the overhauled site)
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.