Well, that went a little long.

I set a goal in the beginning of July to try to post to the blog twice a week.

Hah.

Well, here I am after a whirlwind of cross country trips.  Back to NJ, drive to CA, fly to WI, fly back from WI, fly to NV, fly back from NV, drive around CA some more… it was a crazy month and a half.  But!  My sister now lives in CA, at least for the next ten months, so I have a cross stitching buddy!  I also had plenty of time to stitch, and am onto the backstitching!

Only, I have found a mistake and it bugs me so much, I may need to frog a bit and fix it.

I know.

I’ve also been trying to focus some on making headway on writing fiction.  I’ll admit this currently has priority over StashCache, although I continue to monitor for bugs and still have a huge list of features I would like to implement eventually!  The reality is, however, that StashCache doesn’t make any contributions to the family finances, and our hope is that the writing will.  In return, however, I can offer the news that there are several new stash building files available for download, including Kreinik, Gloriana, Needlepoint Silks, and Dinky Dyes!  Check them out over on the imports page.

Hopefully now that the travel chaos has somewhat settled down, I can start to make some progress on some other things. Fingers crossed!

Technical difficulties, aisle one.

Apologies in advance because this will probably veer into Android gibberish for most of you, but I’m hoping writing it down will help make sense of it.  At least some of it.

It turns out that Samsung’s default file manager, as included in their phones, doesn’t respond (or at least didn’t in the past, which matters when you are supporting phones beyond just the current top of the line) to the ACTION_GET_CONTENT intent.  Head, meet desk.  Some time this evening with my favorite search engine and iterating on terms turned up something that I think will be useful when writing a solution that fits the program, but I am very grateful to the user who let me know about this issue.  That’s the kind of thing that is pretty much impossible for me to find on my own, because it relies on having the Samsung special apps (and only theirs, no other apps that can handle it on the phone) installed, and my only Samsung device in the past 5+ years has been the Galaxy Nexus.

Which is plugged in and charging so I can stick the app on it to hopefully try and reproduce a different bug which has been reported, where I really have no idea what might be going on.  I don’t know why the spinner menu wouldn’t let someone switch back to the stash list after selecting the master list, but if there is someone out there who is reading this and has experienced this bug (and hasn’t contacted me about it), please let me know.  Helpful information would include: your phone or tablet model, the operating system you are using (Android 4.1?  4.2?).

Extra bonus helpful information includes answers to the following questions:

  • What happens when you try to switch to the shopping list instead of back to the stash?
  • When it won’t switch, does the text in the spinner change?
  • Does the problem persist when you rotate your device from portrait to landscape (or vice versa)?

An extra-special thanks to the user who reported this – even when the e-mail has a bug report, hearing from anyone using my app always makes me want to skip around the house singing “somebody likes it” at the top of my lungs.  Pretty much the only reward I get for this is the feedback from folks using it, so it makes my day when it happens.  🙂

Checks date, checks Android Studio.

Well, my plan to release the major update this week hit some major bumps in the road.  A lot of them are related to features that seem really straightforward but aren’t.  That doesn’t mean I’m giving up!

But… it does mean that the update is going to take longer, and may happen in smaller chunks.  Especially because I want to be sure that I am around and able to fix any bugs that might slip through in an update in a timely fashion, and there’s a chunk of travel coming up.  (One of my sisters will be living in the same state as me again! Hooray!)

Also, as much as I love the app and stitching and whatnot, they don’t pay the bills.  I have to take some time out to explore some other possibilities that might result in a paycheck.  My Other Half has been incredibly patient and supportive through all of this, but I don’t want to wear that patience out.

So rest assured, my app users, updates will be forthcoming! But it may take some time.  In the meantime, I’m doing my best to monitor for crashes (Google still doesn’t e-mail me about them, so the best way to bring something to my attention is through e-mail!) and get fixes out for those quickly.  I’m always happy to hear from you!

Alas, vacation is always too short.

Well, that’s my experience, anyway. This one especially – I think The Other Half has really needed one for a while (and I have too) and …this just wasn’t long enough. It was good, just …not enough.

On the flip side, longer would have been less good too, because there were two new bug reports to squish when we came home. I have fixes to both of those out, and there’s a very tricksy one that continues to haunt around (it’s been reported twice so far, but I can’t successfully replicate it, which makes debugging …very challenging). I have a tentative fix for that pulled together but I am going to save it until there’s another update that needs to go out, since I’m not 100% certain it will fix the problem.

I did get some stitching time this trip. The advantage of the Sea Of White, of course, is that it doesn’t require a lot of thought or counting, so it’s very easy to fill in as I sit and listen to an audiobook or we’re driving along. Even these photos are a little out of date, because I filled in another pile while we were driving back home.

stitch_trailer

You can see our trailer, of course – our little teardrop! We had a great time camping in it for the entire trip, starting in the Sierras and ending up in the north, by the redwoods. There were a few short hikes too. I especially loved Fern Canyon. You walk along the stream and on wooden planks over the stream. It was wonderful, with the beautiful sound of the water babbling over the stones and the ferns on either side.

fern_canyon

The kittens were pleased to have us home, of course, although now they’re whining at me because it is dinner time and they get wet food tonight (as an apology for us not being home for a week). The house is mostly back in order (with a few exceptions) and at some point I will get a dinner menu planned so I can go grocery shopping tomorrow.

And, of course, the planned updates for StashCache, which will take quite a bit of development work this week. I’m still working out the specifics and beginning to look at what it will all involved, but hopefully I’ll be able to get started on that tomorrow. Watch this space for updates about what’s coming!

Well, I didn’t expect to blow through that milestone quite like that.

When I last checked on Thursday night, Google was delaying the statistics but I was sitting at 195 users and looking forward to breaking 200.

I just checked, and as of Friday it’s gone up to 275. Wow.

Just. Wow.

(The developer in me is running around in a panic that I have somehow missed several giant crucial bugs and all these new users are going to find them for me just as I go out of e-mail/computer access for a week. Deep breaths. Deep breaths. Also I turned on the e-mail auto-responder and it’s mentioned in the most recent update and now this post here. Deep breaths.)

So to any and all of my new users who read this, welcome! I’d love to know how you’ve heard about this app and what you think. Overall I’d like to make it as great an experience for you as possible while keeping my sanity intact, so please feel free to offer your feedback! 🙂 Just know that a response won’t be coming until a week from tomorrow at the earliest, unless I can’t take it anymore and sneak checking my e-mail when I have cell service.

(I did go up to the local needlework store today for their sale. I did my part to keep them in business, and also got to show off the app there, so once I am back from out of town she’s getting an e-mail – she said she’d put a note in her newsletter for me! And even more helpfully, she’s willing to share the text data for threads from different companies so I can hopefully build some more robust files for import – and maybe figure out how to show them as available for import inside the app. Fingers crossed that won’t be too complicated, because I’m not sure people are finding them on the website.)

E-mail is a good and useful thing, Google.

Google’s daily statistics for StashCache have been somewhat slow to update recently, and I don’t get any e-mail notification of crash reports, so the two that appeared yesterday didn’t get noticed until this evening.  I suppose it’s a given that when it rains, it pours, right?  (Not that we know what rain is here in sunny, drought-stricken CA, but…)

Users do manage to surprise me. One of the bugs was because I was modifying the list while iterating through it (a big no-no), and was relatively easy to fix once I figured out what was actually causing it.  (Google gives me a stack trace, thankfully. I don’t want to think about how awful debugging would be otherwise.)  The other one happens if you set the default fabric count to nothing.  Not 0, not a number, just an empty string. An empty string which, of course, cannot be parsed into an integer, because “” does not resolve to a valid integer. However, since the user did set a value (even if the value was the empty string), the default wasn’t kicking in and instead there was an exception being thrown.  Oops.

The fixes to both are up to the Play Store and trickling through the system.  I’ve tried to edit my preferences so that maybe Google will e-mail me when a crash report comes in, so I can do something about it. I also took the time to go through and leave a response to every one of the reviews I’ve received – it does mean something to me when folks take the time to let me know what they think of the app! I need to spend a little more time poking around with it myself again, and work on getting my stash entered in, especially since there was the stash shopping expedition that just happened and the local needlework store is having a sale this weekend.

The past two days have otherwise been devoted to prep for the upcoming week camping in the mountains with the other half and our travel trailer. We took it out this past weekend to make sure everything was still as it should be, and so this week has been a bunch of checking on food supplies and replacing the old stuff, washing sheets, wiping things down and cleaning, and making sure some of the extraneous things we want to take are all together. I still don’t know where the tarp hooks and stakes are. Hopefully I’ll be able to find them tonight. Tomorrow will be a massive set of grocery runs (after a meeting in the morning) and then there’s still a lot of prep work to get done so I can skip out and do some fun stuff on Saturday.

Looking at this and my goals moving forward and the updates I want to implement in StashCache, I am thinking I may try to hammer out a large update when we get back.  Changeable sorting preferences, selection of previously entered information, ability to set favorites, ability to switch between centimeters and inches, and a tablet specific layout.  We’ll see how realistic achieving all of that is in a week, but if I can get that hammered out then I’ll have two weeks where I can easily monitor crash reports before there is more travel coming up. Fingers crossed.

Waiting on Santa.

The Mill Hill Santas for this year have been announced (and probably released) and I have to say I love them. Of course, the Other Half and I go to our local Scottish Highland Games every year and so in some ways it’s absolutely perfect. I’m planning already to take that to stitch there this year.

Of course, it also means I’m waiting for them to show up online so I can add them to my cart and hit the order button.  Also in that cart, of course, is the hank of Anchor that I’m going to need to finish the Sea of White.  It’s become very apparent I will need it, and I’d really like to order it all together to save on shipping, so that project is sitting aside so I don’t run out while working. Besides, I have lots of little kits I can work on in the meantime, and the last season of Mythbusters with the Build Team arrived last week, so that’s some nice stitching listening.

Also the next book in my favorite series by one of my favorite authors.  I’ve read it through already, but the audiobook is still being worked on!

I’m trying to balance working on my next project (and we’re going to see where that goes) and the changes I still want to work into StashCache. Along with healthy eating, getting the house in better order, getting the financial stuff in order, making the summer travel arrangements, and supporting the Other Half while he’s dealing with work. Not sure I’m always getting it right, but I’m trying. Maybe tomorrow I will take a break from the next project to work on StashCache some. The changes I want to make are turning out to be a little more complicated than I thought they would be, but I still think they’re doable.

Some updates and more thinking.

I had a lovely e-mail conversation with a user of StashCache last night, dealing with some difficulties with how the app sorting works.  We got it straightened out, and I am thinking about how to make it easier to select information that you have entered previously, to avoid problems like extra whitespace tripping up the sorting.  (Another possibility is to set the sorting to ignore whitespace, which I might consider doing in addition.  Comparisons too …something more to consider. And then there’s the changes to sorting which I’ve talked about before and I’m still mulling over. Anyway.)

I think it should be relatively straightforward to convert the text boxes where you enter information into ones that can access a list of previously entered information, filtered based on the letters you’ve already typed. Of course, you can always enter something new, as well.  The main challenge is keeping incomplete data out of the overall list, which I have an idea or two on. Still trying to think through all the details. The Other Half will probably get an earful about design tonight, assuming he is willing to listen. Having some idea of the framework I’m trying for before I start mucking around in the code generally helps.

There was also an update pushed out yesterday that added a check to make sure the file selected for import is one the program is actually equipped to import – namely, a text file. This prevents adding gibberish to the stash and/or crashing the app by trying to import a file the app can’t read, like a PDF. I added a note about this to the FAQ. I continue to keep my eye out and watch for crashes, and I’m doing my best to get those all addressed within 24 hours.

On the stitching side of things, I have made progress on the sea of white. Not as much as I would like, but progress. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m probably not going to have enough white thread so there’s a skein of the Anchor tossed in the next shopping cart I’m ordering from 123stitch. Just waiting for the new Mill Hill kits to be available so I can toss those in and get the biggest bang for my buck shipping-wise.

I am trying to step back from working on this as constantly as I have been the past few months, since I need to start gearing my time towards something that will let me contribute some to the household. I had actually written this in part as a portfolio piece, something I could show prospective employers, but now things are more unsettled and I am looking at writing. I’m grateful The Other Half is being incredibly supportive and I’d like to be able to contribute something back.

I also thought that I’d really know what I wanted to do when I grew up by age 30, but …it’s not looking too likely at this point.

Another bug squashed.

I got another bug report yesterday, and worked to get that squished, both in the immediate location where it was reported and in other places where it could happen.  I had forgotten to check for null when the user didn’t set the type/source of threads or embellishments, and that could cause a crash when exporting. I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten that all fixed now, though, and the fix is up on Google and being distributed to users.

We’re trying to figure out the plan for today and I am not sure what it will be. The Other Half wants to do a bike ride, of some sort, and I suppose it would be good for me. On the flip side, this will not contribute to either talking with my sister when she is back online or doing any cross stitch, which hasn’t happened much this week in favor of things like “reducing my unread email count to zero” or “cleaning out the box of batteries that has sat in the entryway for a year.”

On the plus side, the kittens have a new cat tower, bringing their count to two. We do spoil the furry children…

Well, take two on the new toy.

As I’ve been working to deal with some of the housework that piled up while I worked on StashCache, I went to clean out the pantry today (and attempt to organize it again, as best it can be organized when it is two cabinets of deep shelves that things invariably get lost in…) and wanted to have the laptop in the kitchen with me so I could chat with a few friends while doing so.

This proved to be a bad plan, as the laptop promptly lost the wifi signal. And again. And again. Every time I took it into the kitchen. (In the standard “when it rains, it pours” fashion, this is also when one of my chat services – the one I use to keep in touch with The Other Half – started to have issues with my client.  As a second issue that also had to be sorted out.) Cue troubleshooting, some quality time with Google, a few naughty words (especially when I managed to uninstall the network drivers and didn’t have the proper ones downloaded to reinstall …oops), and finally a drive back to the store to exchange the laptop.

My best guess is a defective antenna; there was no reason for the behavior I was seeing and indeed, the new one is much, much more stable (and can connect to the main house wifi). The downside is, of course, that now I get to install everything again.

At least I am getting good at it? The development environment is already in place, as are most of the practical programs. Just a few things left, and maybe I will investigate a new e-mail client. (I am not a fan of webmail interfaces, and it appears that Postbox works for Windows…)

In the meantime, StashCache is celebrating over 100 users now! It’s so exciting to see people using the program and most of my feedback has been positive! I’m always interested to hear what folks think of it, so if you are a user, please let me know what you think works and what you might like to see in the future. I promise I don’t bite!

November 2017
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