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Dejal year in review: 2012

Happy New Year!

Another year has gone by, so it's time to review what happened with Dejal apps in 2012:

My flagship product to monitor websites and servers for changes and failures, Simon, was updated to version 3.4 in 2012. This release included a new email notifier transport, and other improvements. It also reached a major milestone, turning 10 years old in December.

My handy break reminder tool, Time Out, remains one of my most popular apps, and it saw a number of updates in 2012, to version 1.7.1. I made some progress on version 2.0, but it again got sidelined by other projects. For those waiting for it, I'm sorry for the delays; it's frustrating for me, too. It remains an important and exciting update. And as previously mentioned, everyone who makes a donation for Time Out now will be automatically eligible for the full-featured paid edition at no additional cost — so you can set your own price for it now! This offer expires when version 2 is released. Thank you to everyone who has already donated; the volume of donations is really encouraging.

Caboodle, my lean clean snippet machine, wasn't updated in 2012. It still works fine, and is used by lots of people on a daily basis. I actually have a 1.5 update in progress, which will be coming out soon.

BlogAssist, my tool to help with HTML markup, was updated to version 2.4 in 2012. This update added handy new Substitutions preferences, and is fully compatible with Mountain Lion, including Gatekeeper (Developer ID) and sandbox support, among other changes.

Tweeps, an app for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch to easily manage Twitter accounts, was updated to version 3.1.1, including support for iOS 5's Twitter accounts, editing avatars, iPhone 5's nice 4" display, and more.

I introduced a new iOS app in 2012: Profile. This is a client for Intrahealth's powerful medical practice management system. I spent the majority of the year working on various versions of this, as contract work. The latest public release is version 2.0.1, but it's up to 2.2a12 in private testing.

So what's coming up in 2013? Lots of app updates. In the first couple of months I will do releases of Simon 3.5, Caboodle 1.5 and Profile 2.2. Then it's back to Time Out 2.0, with a simplified design to get it out sooner. Then I have big plans for more Simon, Time Out, Caboodle and BlogAssist updates, and may even introduce a new app or two as well. It's going to be an exciting year for Dejal!

Simon turns 10

My flagship Mac app, Dejal Simon, turned 10 years old earlier this month. Simon 1.0 was released on 2002-12-06. I actually missed the anniversary, but Jean MacDonald mentioned other 10-year anniversaries on Twitter, and I realized Simon's was also recent. I do like to blog about Dejal history, so I thought I'd mark this milestone too.

Like most software, Simon has undergone many changes since its inception all those years ago. An immediately obvious difference is the icon: version 1.0 had a monochrome icon, as shown to the right. The modern icon is similar, but more colorful and attractive, I think.

As for the user interface, version 1.0 looked somewhat different, though you'll recognize a number of elements that have persisted to this day:

Check out those pinstripes! Simon 1.0 worked with Mac OS X 10.1, where the window chrome was much more in-your-face than nowadays.

Back in the initial versions, Simon's editors were displayed in sheets over the top of the list windows, instead of as separate windows as now. Here's the Alter Test editor over the (cropped) main window:

Back in 1.0, all Simon did was check websites (or FTP sites), so there's no service selection. And everything's crowded into this one sheet, which only got more busy in 2.0. It was finally split over multiple pages in 3.0, which I think is much nicer and clearer.

Similarly, here's the Alter Notifier editor, also as a sheet. The only notifiers supported initially were Sound and Speech; it's much more versatile nowadays:

Finally, here's what the Simon website looked like back then; notice the old Dejal logo, and the rather dated design:

I hope you enjoyed this brief romp down memory lane. Take a look at the modern Simon 3!

Tweeps 3.1.1 released

A quick update to Tweeps, my iOS app to help manage Twitter accounts. It has been updated to version 3.1.1.

This update fixes a crash when going back before the list of profiles has completed loading. Sorry about that!

Version 3.1 added support for the new 4" display on the iPhone 5, and is built for iOS 6.0, compatible back to iOS 5.0.

It is currently available for a special price of just $4.99, for a limited time.

Learn more about Tweeps.

Time Out 1.7.1 released

Yesterday I was alerted to an issue with Time Out 1.7, where the breaks wouldn't occur for some people. It turned out that if you choose to reopen apps on login via the new option in Mountain Lion, Time Out wasn't fully starting until you brought the app to the front. So here's a fix for that, and plus a couple of other tweaks:

  • Fixed issue that prevented the timers from starting when auto-launched until Time Out is brought to the front the first time.
  • Now sets the state of the auto-launch preference checkbox from whether or not it'll actually be launched, rather than just what was previously chosen (a subtle difference).
  • Fixed the minimum OS requirement, so trying to launch it on an OS version before 10.7 will give an alert instead of unexpected behavior.

Download Time Out 1.7.1 now!

Tweeps 3.1 released

I'm pleased to report that Tweeps, my iOS app to help manage Twitter accounts, has been updated to version 3.1.

This update adds support for the new 4" display on the iPhone 5.

It is also built for iOS 6.0, compatible back to iOS 5.0.

Learn more about Tweeps.

BlogAssist Express 2.4 release

BlogAssist Express version 2.4 is now available on the Mac App Store (only a month after submission... review times are rather slow at present).

This update includes the following changes for BlogAssist Express (the standard edition has further changes that aren't relevant to the App Store edition; see the release notes for details):

  • Added a Substitutions preference page, that optionally replaces symbols and accented characters with the HTML entity equivalents. It can also be used to replace URLs, e.g. to strip off a base URL for your own domain, or change it to localhost (or anything else).
  • Updated all three BlogAssist modes to support the new substitution preferences.
  • Reimplemented the auto-launch preference to work with Mountain Lion and sandboxing.
  • Removed the quit confirmation preference.
  • Added German and French localizations (new for BlogAssist Express).
  • Updated the User Guide.
  • The app is now fully sandboxed, providing increased security.
  • BlogAssist now requires a 64-bit Mac and a minimum of OS X 10.7 (Lion).
  • Many other behind-the-scenes improvements made possible by dropping older OS versions, PowerPC and 32-bit support.

Get BlogAssist Express from the Mac App Store, or try the standard edition for free from the Dejal site.

The war on spam

In recent months the amount of spam postings attempted on the Dejal Forums and Dejal Blog comments has reached an unmanageable level.

You may not have seen any spam here, as I've had to spend increasing amounts of time each day moderating posts and comments. It's gotten so bad that a couple of weeks ago I changed the filtering rules to effectively block all posts, so everything had to manually moderated.

However, today I've installed Mollom, thanks to a suggestion in the forums. It uses text analysis to determine whether a post or comment is spam or "ham" (good). If it's unsure, it will display a CAPTCHA (those things where you enter characters to prove you're human). Learn more about Mollom....

I have high hopes that Mollom will solve the spam battle on this site. Time will tell! If you have any issues with creating user accounts, or posting in the forums or comment, or you have any other feedback about it, please contact me.

BlogAssist 2.4 release

BlogAssist version 2.4 is now in general release! BlogAssist is my handy tool to make HTML markup easier, whether you're developing websites, posting to forums, or any other times markup is needed.

A key feature of this update is the new Substitutions preferences. These optionally replace symbols and accented characters with the HTML entity equivalents. They can also be used to replace URLs, e.g. to strip off a base URL for your own domain, or change it to localhost (or anything else).

Here's a screenshot:

But wait, there's more! BlogAssist 2.4 also has changes for Mountain Lion support, including a new approach to starting on login, support for Gatekeeper (Developer ID), and sandboxing.

Important: it now requires OS X 10.7 (Lion) or later, and a 64-bit Mac. The previous version is still available if you're using an older OS version or Mac.

BlogAssist Express 2.4 has been submitted to the Mac App Store; it'll be available once Apple approves it (which can take a few weeks).

See the release notes for full details.

Download BlogAssist 2.4 now!

Profile 2.0.1 released

Profile is a medical practice management app that connects to Intrahealth's server. A small update is now available in the App Store, with some improvements:

Forms

  • Added support for background and text color properties of form templates: if set, the colors are used for the field prompt.
  • If a hint is set, it is displayed below the prompt.
  • Templates that have been deleted from the server are now marked as historical, so they aren't offered when adding a form in New Encounter.
  • Fixed layout of value picker popovers where they could appear off the bottom of the screen for long forms.
  • Date and time values now default to blank instead of today; tapping to display the picker will enter today's date/time.
  • Date and time pickers now include a Clear button to remove the value.
  • Fixed live-updating of date and time values.

Other

  • Changed the Unlock Profile view to combine the Server and Port fields into a single Server field. The http:// or https:// prefix is optional (it uses https:// if no port or a port of 443 is specified). Also, if the server is hosted on myaccession.com, just a server name can be entered, e.g. just the "example" part of "example.myaccession.com/aps".
  • Fixed an issue with SSL/TLS connections.
  • Improved text colour handling.
  • Settings for Appointments and Tasks now have wider date ranges, including an All option.
  • After saving a new case, automatically reloads the patient's interventions and problems, in case the server added some for the new case.
  • Some other performance and stability improvements.
  • Tweaked the icon, to make it more distinctive from version 1.

Remember, Profile requires an Intrahealth Profile server; you won't be able to do anything if you're not an Intrahealth customer.

If you're curious, you can learn more about Profile and see screenshots on the Profile product page on this site, and on the App Store.

BlogAssist 2.4b2 release

Here's another beta release of BlogAssist 2.4, my handy tool to help with HTML markup.

This beta includes some improvements to the really useful new substitutions feature, and updated localizations:

  • Made the substitutions feature smarter, so it doesn't replace text that already has substitutions applied.
  • Added four new default substitutions (off by default), showing how this feature can be used to replace URLs, e.g. to strip off a base URL for your own domain, or change it to localhost (or anything else).
  • Updated German and French localizations.
  • Updated the User Guide.

Download BlogAssist 2.4b2 now!

Time Out 1.7 released

Time Out 1.7 adds a couple of nice enhancements to the Sound break preferences, to change the volume and loop the start sound.

But the main reason for this update is to enhance Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8) support: to sign the app with an Apple-issued Developer ID for Gatekeeper support, move to the modern runtime, and related changes.

As with the recent BlogAssist release, Time Out 1.7 now requires Lion (OS X 10.7) or later and a 64-bit Intel machine. However Time Out is not sandboxed yet (and thus I can't update the Mac App Store edition); that will come in version 2.

Speaking of which, for those wondering about that great vaporware known as Time Out 2, it's still in the works — and the changes in this release are a great step towards that. I don't want to guess at when it'll be available, since various other projects keep getting in the way. It'll be ready when it's ready, but it's moving forward as time allows.

Here are the full release notes for version 1.7:

  • Added a Volume slider to the Sound break preferences, enabling sounds to be played quieter if desired.
  • Added a checkbox to enable repeating the start sound until the end of the break; useful to loop short sounds as an audio cue of the break.
  • Reimplemented the auto-launch preference to work with Mountain Lion and sandboxing.
  • Removed the quit confirmation preference.
  • Removed the in-app purchase options, since not compatible with 64-bit, and rarely used. (Standard edition only)
  • Fixed display of license entry date in the Licenses editor. (Standard edition only)
  • Fixed drafting an email if a license couldn't be found. (Standard edition only)
  • The standard edition of the app is now signed with a Developer ID to support Gatekeeper on Mountain Lion. (Standard edition only)
  • Time Out now requires a 64-bit Mac and a minimum of OS X 10.7 (Lion).
  • Many other behind-the-scenes improvements made possible by dropping older OS versions, PowerPC and 32-bit support.

Download Time Out 1.7 now!

Profile 2.0 released

I introduced Profile for iOS, the medical practice management app, about four months ago. Since then, I've been working on a major upgrade: version 2.0. This update includes many significant improvements:

  • Case Orientation.
  • Redesigned Appointments, Tasks & New Encounters.
  • Library content.
  • Forms.
  • Reference Series.
  • Lexicon.
  • On the Go Preferences.
  • And much more.

Read the release notes for full details.

Remember, Profile requires an Intrahealth Profile server; you won't be able to do anything if you're not an Intrahealth customer.

If you're curious, you can learn more about Profile and see screenshots on the Profile product page on this site, and on the App Store.

Time Out 1.7b2 released

Time Out 1.7 adds a couple of nice enhancements to the Sound break preferences, to change the volume and loop the start sound.

But the main reason for this update is to enhance Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8) support: to sign the app with an Apple-issued Developer ID for Gatekeeper support, move to the modern runtime, and related changes.

As with the recent BlogAssist release, Time Out 1.7 now requires Lion (OS X 10.7) or later and a 64-bit Intel machine. However Time Out is not sandboxed yet (and thus I can't update the Mac App Store edition); that will come in version 2.

Speaking of which, for those wondering about that great vaporware known as Time Out 2, it's still in the works — and the changes in this release are a great step towards that. I don't want to guess at when it'll be available, since various other projects keep getting in the way. It'll be ready when it's ready, but it's moving forward as time allows.

Here are the full release notes for version 1.7b1:

  • Added a Volume slider to the Sound break preferences, enabling sounds to be played quieter if desired.
  • Added a checkbox to enable repeating the start sound until the end of the break; useful to loop short sounds as an audio cue of the break.
  • Reimplemented the auto-launch preference to work with Mountain Lion and sandboxing.
  • Removed the quit confirmation preference.
  • Removed the in-app purchase options, since not compatible with 64-bit, and rarely used. (Standard edition only)
  • Fixed display of license entry date in the Licenses editor. (Standard edition only)
  • Fixed drafting an email if a license couldn't be found. (Standard edition only)
  • The standard edition of the app is now signed with a Developer ID to support Gatekeeper on Mountain Lion. (Standard edition only)
  • Time Out now requires a 64-bit Mac and a minimum of OS X 10.7 (Lion).
  • Many other behind-the-scenes improvements made possible by dropping older OS versions, PowerPC and 32-bit support.

UPDATE: I've just released 1.7b2, which fixes a bug with resetting the timers in the first beta. Sorry about that!

Download Time Out 1.7b2 now!

BlogAssist 2.4b1 release

Time to dip my toe in the sandbox!

I'm pleased to report that I have been able to drag BlogAssist, my handy tool to help with HTML markup, into 2012: it is now fully sandboxed, providing increased security, and signed with an Apple-issued "Developer ID" so it plays nicely with Mountain Lion.

I also raised the minimum OS version from Leopard (10.5) to Lion (10.7). I know some people are still on Snow Leopard (and a tiny percentage still on Leopard), but I felt it was worthwhile moving to Lion, as the majority of customers are on this OS (and soon will be moving up to Mountain Lion), and it enables me to leverage lots of great OS features moving forward.

It is now a 64-bit app... which isn't really necessary from a data perspective (BlogAssist doesn't use lots of data), but means it uses the "modern runtime", which offers some great benefits on the backend.

This release also includes handy new substitution preferences, which non-English customers will particularly enjoy (it's something my French localizer originally asked for). Easily convert symbols and accented characters into their HTML entities.

This is a beta release, with lots of big infrastructural changes, so please let me know if you find any issues. It all seems fine in my testing, though. BlogAssist is a simple app, which is why I moved it to Lion, 64-bit, sandboxing and Developer ID first.

Here are the full release notes:

  • Added a Substitutions preference page, that optionally replaces symbols and accented characters with the HTML entity equivalents.
  • Updated all three BlogAssist modes to support the new substitution preferences.
  • Reimplemented the auto-launch preference to work with Mountain Lion and sandboxing.
  • Removed the quit confirmation preference.
  • Added a license button to the Preferences window, when unlicensed, to make it easier to buy the app. (Standard edition only)
  • Removed the in-app purchase options, since not compatibile with 64-bit, and rarely used. (Standard edition only)
  • Fixed display of license entry date in the Licenses editor. (Standard edition only)
  • The standard edition of the app is now signed with a Developer ID to support Gatekeeper on Mountain Lion. (Standard edition only)
  • The app is now fully sandboxed, providing increased security.
  • BlogAssist now requires a 64-bit Mac and a minimum of OS X 10.7 (Lion).
  • Many other behind-the-scenes improvements made possible by dropping older OS versions, PowerPC and 32-bit support.

Download BlogAssist 2.4b1 now!

Tweeps 3.0.1 released

I'm pleased to announce a major upgrade of my iOS app to help manage Twitter accounts, Tweeps. Version 3 has been rewritten to use iOS 5's built-in Twitter accounts, so you no longer need to authenticate them in Tweeps.

It also adds a feature that version 1 had, but I had to remove in version 2 — the ability to edit avatar images. You can take a photo with the camera, choose a picture from your photo library, or paste an image from a web page or other app, and set it as the avatar for your Twitter account.

I also replaced the brown color scheme with the standard iOS theme. I didn't really like the brown. The idea was to match the nest theme of the icon, but brown isn't the most attractive color.

Tweeps 3 also supports retina graphics on the new iPad, the sidebar is always visible for easier access, and other improvements.

Tweeps 3 requires iOS 5 or later, and is universal, so works natively on iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.

I'll leave Tweeps free for today, but tomorrow will increase the price. I'm thinking of an experiment: set the price at $9.99 tomorrow, then decrease it by a dollar each week, to a final price of $0.99. A bit of the reverse of a more traditional technique of starting cheap and increasing the price over time. We'll see how it goes.

Update: Thanks to everyone who downloaded it while free; please leave a review. And thanks to everyone who buys it now; your purchases help fund the development work!

Learn more about Tweeps:

CNET: how to reduce computer-related eyestrain

Thanks to Sharon Vaknin for the mention of Time Out in this video, that gives helpful tips on reducing eyestrain:

Watch on YouTube.

WWDC: a modest proposal

WWDC 2012 tickets went on sale this morning... and sold out less than two hours later. Last year it took 12 hours, two years ago it was a week, before that a month, or more.

So next year it will sell out in what, half an hour? This isn't very sustainable.

I think in this digital age the WWDC format isn't really suitable anymore. I hope that Apple is considering other approaches.

Presentation sessions aren't a very effective way to disseminate information. Live demos and Keynote slideshows are interesting and useful, but when most people watch them on the videos later, I think everyone would be better served if Apple posted presentation videos before the conference — like a month or so before, so people have time to watch them and can discuss them at the conference.

That'd be easier for Apple's developers, too — no pressure to get it right on the day, and would enable them to edit and perfect the videos.

Perhaps the main benefits of attending WWDC are the social interaction amongst developers, and the opportunity to meet and discuss issues with Apple developers at labs and elsewhere.

So if WWDC moved the sessions to videos, the conference could be all about such interactions. It could retain fun events like the Bash, the Apple Design Awards, and Stump the Experts, and perhaps add other similar group activities. Plus the Apple developers could be available throughout the week for one-on-one labs and casual meetings.

To address the limited availability, WWDC could move to a model like other conferences and conventions: sell tickets for individual days. For the very keen, there could be multi-day passes, but for many developers, one or two days would be plenty. Plus without sessions taking up all the room, many more people could attend group events like the awards etc, or find a space for smaller meetups.

Different days could focus on different areas, too — perhaps Monday for the keynote and awards shows, Tuesday & Wednesday for iOS, and Thursday & Friday for Mac. Though without the sessions, the few remaining events and labs could be spread out so more people have a chance to attend the areas that interest them.

I think this would be much better all round, and would enable WWDC to better serve and cope with the ever expanding developer community.

Time Out 1.6.5 released

Here's a quick update of Time Out 1.6.5, to fix the incorrect display of when the next normal break is due.

This was caused by what I think is a bug in Lion — the way a date id described (to convert from a date to a string) no longer matches the documented format, and so it fails to be converted back from a string to a date.

Anyway, all better now. Sorry for any inconvenience!

I'm currently spending weekdays working on Profile version 2, and weekends on Time Out version 2. I got the agent communication working this weekend (the stuff that will let Time Out run in the background without having to be in the Dock). Next weekend I'll be working on the main configuration window. Hopefully I'll have the first alpha release available in a few weeks time (only for a small team of testers, yet to be selected from a list of volunteers).

Download Time Out 1.6.5 now!

Introducing Profile for iOS

I'm pleased to introduce a new app for iOS: Profile.

Profile is an iOS app for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch to provide on-the-go access to the powerful medical practice management system provided by Intrahealth — a leading medical software vendor in New Zealand, Canada and Australia.

Important: please note that Profile can only be used by licensed users of Intrahealth's software; it requires logging into their server software. So there's no point in downloading it unless you are already an Intrahealth customer.

I think this is the first mention of Intrahealth on the Dejal site... but I've actually been working with Intrahealth for about 17 years now. I started contracting work with them back in 1995, working on their Macintosh Medical Administration System (MMAS) product, which later became Profile for Mac. I still help out with that a bit, but nowadays spend most of my Intrahealth (IH) time working on Profile for iOS.

This project started in January 2011, though work in earnest didn't start till August 2011. Version 1.0 was released late last month, and version 1.1 was released today. I'm already hard at work on version 2.

So, if you've wondered at the slow progress on Time Out 2 and other apps, now you know why. But don't worry, I have time allocated for Time Out 2, and have been making good progress on it.

If you're curious, you can learn more about Profile and see screenshots on the Profile product page on this site, and on the App Store.

Simon 3.4 released

Shortest beta ever!

I must admit, I set the version number in 3.4b3 to just 3.4, for the Mac App Store release, and forgot to set it back. So the version I released this morning as 3.4b3 was actually a general release build. Since the previous version had been in beta several weeks, and there was just one change in this new build, I decided to let it remain as such.

So, here it is, officially as a general release!

This version includes a much more reliable Automatic Email transport, along with some other improvements:

  • New tests now use the Change filter by default, to avoid confusion over new tests not detecting changes. (You can of course alter that to a more specific filter, or disable it.)
  • Replaced the Email notifier's Automatic transport with a new one, now called Apple Mail, that sends the message via Apple's Mail app. (Standard edition only)
  • The From field is now replaced by a pop-up menu of mail accounts for the new Apple Mail transport. (Standard edition only)
  • The Reply-To and X-Header fields are now disabled in the Apple Mail transport, since those are not supported by the new mechanism. (Standard edition only)
  • Added a hidden preference to switch back to the old Automatic transport, just in case (it will be removed in a future version). It can be enabled via defaults write com.dejal.simon EmailUseLegacyTransport YES in Terminal. (Standard edition only)
  • Also updated the SMS notifer plug-in to send email via Apple Mail, and use a pop-up menu for the From address. (Standard edition only)
  • The license button in the Simon Monitor window now shows the Licenses window instead of going to the Dejal Store web page. (Standard edition only)
  • Fixed issue where an offline test wouldn't check again until checked manually.
  • Fixed an issue that prevented the second check of a new test from detecting a change. (Note that new or edited tests don't register a change for the first check after editing, in case the configuration was altered.)
  • Fixed an incompatibility with Mac OS X 10.7.3.

Download Simon 3.4 now!

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