Archive for February, 2011

JulianSmith Official Released!

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Over the last year we have been privileged to team up with several YouTube content providers to provide their official iOS apps into the app store. We are making every effort to provide you, our faithful users, with a diverse collection of “the best of the best” in their respective categories.

One of the categories that is growing in popularity on YouTube is the role of the filmmaker. Once a haven for pet videos and total random postings by unsuspecting family members, YouTube is quickly maturing into a source for content that rivals network and cable television – both in content quality and production quality.

One of the sources of this remarkable “content shift” towards quality is Julian Smith. For those of you who might not know Julian, he’s the creative mind behind some awesome original comedic shorts, parodies, webisodes, and music videos — all of which have gained him the public spotlight more than once. One of his most well-known videos, entitled “25 things I hate about facebook” went viral, landed him an interview on the Tyra Banks show, and yielded an invitation to facebook’s home office to film a sequel.

Julian’s attention to detail in his videos extends to his unique, easy to navigate, custom website and into everything he does. Given all of this, and especially given Julian’s discriminating eye for new media – we are very excited to announce that we have partnered with Julian to provide his Official iOS application into the app store. It’s more than a privilege to catch the eye of someone with such a talented eye ;).

JulianSmith Official has been launched into the app store and is available now! To download the application, simply click here – whether you are on your computer or on your device, you will be directed right to the app’s listing in the app store. The application is currently optimized for the iPhone/iPod, and will function just fine in compatibility mode on your iPad. A future release of this app specific to iPad and Android is also planned, as with all of our other popular apps.

Julian’s app gives you super easy access to all of his YouTube content, and features push notifications whenever new videos are posted. The app allows you to use common YouTube community functionality to rate/comment/subscribe and interact with Julian’s content, as well as peruse his various social streams, website, and store. If you are a fan of Julian – we know you’ll love this convenient way to keep Julian in your pocket wherever you go!

As always, the app also contains three tabs intended to keep you “in the loop” with our latest developments. The “About” tab gives you a quick way to check your version and contact us with any feature suggestions, questions, or bug reports. The “dev blog” tab gives you a mobile view of this blog, so that you can stay up to date with new releases, known outages, and tips and tricks. Finally, the “More Apps” tab gives you a direct route to download any of our other popular applications.

We hope that you enjoy this new addition to our lineup as much as we enjoyed building it.

Not receiving any push notifications?

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Not receiving push notifications?  There can be a couple of reasons for this – to help you diagnose why you may not be receiving notifications for new videos from any of our push-enabled apps, we’ve come up with the common reasons why push may stop working for you.  Read on for information on how you can guarantee that you don’t miss any notifications in the future.

First, however, a little background on how push notifications work.  When you install one of our apps and run it for the first time, it asks you if you want push notifications.  When you agree and enable notifications, the device gives our application a unique “Push ID” that identifies your device out of the millions of iOS devices out there.  The application then contacts our push notification server and says “Hey, this device wants to receive push notifications, and the unique ID is this 40 character string”.  The push server then stores that 40 character string so that the next time a push is sent, we can direct a notification to your device.

When a new video is detected, our server connects to Apple, and sends the push notification payload to Apple’s server.  It does this by including the text of the notification along with some other bits of information and the 40 character string identifying your device.   As long as your device has an active connection to the internet, your device then receives and displays the notification.

If Apple tries to send you the push notification and your device is not actively connected to the internet, Apple will store it and try again later.  If too much time passes, Apple will assume the device is no longer responding and will send a notification to our server saying “Hey, you want to send push to this device, but it’s not listening” – at this time, according to Apple’s guidelines we disable further notifications to your device so that Apple doesn’t continue to try to send notifications to a device that is not responding.

In most cases, this system is perfect.  In other cases, it might cause you to stop receiving push notifications.  The list below describes the different scenarios where you may experience troubles, and how to work around them.  Keep in mind that these “issues” are not unique to GeekUtils’ apps – this push notification system works the very same way for every application that sends push notifications – so this is good information to know to ensure push continues functioning on any of your apps:

  • Issue #1 – Persistent Connection is not available – This is the most common scenario and is most prominent on the iPod Touch.   The iPod Touch does not maintain an always-on connection to the internet.  In fact, when the device goes to sleep, WiFi turns itself off.  When you wake it back up, it re-establishes the connection to WiFi.  This is done to conserve battery life, but it can cause an interesting pickle with push notifications because you cannot receive notifications unless you have an internet connection.  Fortunately, it appears that the iPod Touch will periodically reconnect even while sleeping to check for new notifications – but the connection is not continuous.  This is further complicated by the fact that if you are away from WiFi, you have no connectivity at all with an iPod Touch.  As mentioned above, if your iPod is “off of the network” for too long and pending notifications get queued up, it will cause Apple to report to us that the device is no longer responding.   When we receive this notification from Apple – we are required to disable future notifications to your device.  The same is true if your battery dies on your iPod or iPhone and it is turned off for long periods, OR if you enter an area where there is no cellular OR wifi service on the iPhone.
    • How to resolve this – Nearly all apps, including ours, re-affirm push notification service when the app is loaded.  If you have been off of the network for a long time, or if you notice that you stop receiving push notifications for a particular app – simply re-launch it when you have a network connection.  This will cause the app to re-register with the push notification process and you should begin receiving notifications again.
  • Issue #2 – Push notifications are disabled – it is very common for people to touch “Don’t Allow” inadvertently when they launch an app for the first time.  If you touch “Don’t Allow” when the device asks you if you want to receive push notifications, it will disable push for that app.
    • How to resolve this – To re-enable the notifications, simply go to the Notifications control panel in settings as described here and make sure that notifications are enabled for the device and for the app in question.
  • Issue #3 – Your Push Identifier has changed on your device – We just discovered this by working with one of our faithful users and are very appreciative of the time he spent working with us.  The unique push identifier mentioned in the paragraph describing how push works is usually constant.  For a particular app, once an identifier is created – it will usually remain the same identifier no matter what.   We have identified some cases, however, where the push identifier changes. Until today, our push notification server was not designed to understand what to do if this identifier changes.  Thanks to this user’s help with troubleshooting, we have changed the notification server so that if your unique push ID changes, it will be updated in our server.
    • How to resolve this – This issue is pretty rare, but if you are affected by it – you should not be any longer given the changes we have made to our server.  To ensure your device ID is up to date, or if you think you may be affected by this issue because you are not receiving push notifications, simply re-launch the app.  When your app re-registers with our push notification server, your ID will be updated if it has changed.
  • Issue #4 – Your device is jailbroken – Some of the jailbreaks out there for iOS actually breaks the notification process.  This is especially true with jailbreaks for v3.1.2 of iOS.
    • How to resolve this – scour the net for known issues with the jailbreaking mechanism you used.  Unfortunately, we do not provide support in this area because there are simply too many possible jailbreaks and too many third party components that can cause issues with jailbreaking.  Usually, with a little research, you can find a solution to the issue.

We hope that you find this information helpful.  If you are having issues with push notifications and none of the above solutions help you, or if you have a different issue that is not described here – please contact us using the link on the “About” page in any of our apps.  We would love to hear from you!

We want to hear from you!

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

It’s no mistaking that 2011 is off to a great start here at GeekUtils.  We have some great updates and enhancements planned for all of our apps this year, but we still want to hear from you.  Do you have ideas for new features or functions?  Maybe you know of a great new YouTube channel and you think we should contact them to build them an app?  Maybe you’ve found a bug in one of our products, or have a suggestion for an enhancement that would make one of the features of our app easier to use?

If any of these describes you – please contact us.  The quickest way is to simply open any of our apps, go to the “More” tab, touch “About” and then touch the “Send GeekUtils and e-Mail” button.  (NOTE: this is the case in the majority of our apps, but in some apps the “About” tab is located elsewhere in the app).  This will pop up the e-mail app where you can send us your thoughts, suggestions, complaints, bug reports, or just take a moment to say hello and tell us how you like our apps :).

We look forward to hearing from you!

Peter Chao Official v1.1 available

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

The update we mentioned in our last post for the Peter Chao official app is now available in the store.  This update fixes some small bugs and, more importantly, adds Peter’s revitalized “PeterChaoTime” channel into the app.

The tab layout has changed slightly – but remember, you can always edit the tab arrangement in any of our apps to put the content you care about most front and center on the main tab bar.  To do this, simply visit the “More” tab, and press “Edit” in the upper right corner of the screen and drag the icons on to the tab bar.  When you’re done, press “Done” and your settings will be saved so that each time you load the app, the layout you specified will be used.

This update is recommended for anyone using the Peter Chao Official app.  To update to the latest version, simply launch the App Store on your device, and visit the “Updates” tab to download.   Remember that you can also check which version you are currently using by checking the Version number found on the About tab inside every one of our apps.


Updates for BlackBoxTV and PeterChao Official

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

We’ve got some updates that are in process for you two of our popular applications.

BlackBoxTV has been updated to 1.5 and the update is already available in the app store today.   This update is recommended for all users of BlackBoxTV and includes some small bug fixes and enhancements for the BlackBoxTV store.

PeterChao Official has been updated to 1.1 and the update has been submitted to Apple and will be available soon.  This update adds the PeterChaoTime channel into the app and includes some small bug fixes and performance enhancements to the basic app framework that are being rolled out to all of our apps.

Apple has been very quick lately in approving application updates, so we’re hopeful that PeterChao 1.1 will be released into the app store sometime Super Bowl Weekend.

We hope you enjoy these incremental updates and welcome you to always use the “About” tab inside of any of our apps to contact us to provide feature suggestions, report bugs, or to just say hi 😉