Thursday, May 27, 2010

Understanding at last?

So, I was looking at the iPhone Developer Center trying to figure out from the tech notes why symbolicatecrash, which I was reading would be working just fine, was not working just fine. What I believe it is now, though, is that my SDK version is 3.1.2 and my iPhone OS version is 3.1.3. *sigh* Just shows to go you that as a developer you should always stay up-to-date on the latest SDKs when they're released. Now I need to see if there's a way for me to download the old 3.1.3 SDK. Why, you ask? Because of the iPhone SDK 3.2.
The new SDK requires Snow Leopard which I haven't installed yet (I just ordered it). In the interim, I'm just kind of shooting in the dark with what's happening. Given what I've been reading, it seems like that's the issue, which would be nice. If so, it would at least mean that I'm not a complete idiot. :) The worst part is that even if I do get it to symbolicate, I need to find out why it's failing.
Overall it's been a pretty frustrating experience, but at least it looks like things are turning around and this does seem like the most likely answer to the problems I've been experiencing. And it's also not been abundantly clear from the blogs I've been reading what this issue is.
So, there we go. At least for now. *sigh*
Update: I found a link to the old 3.1.3 SDK which I'm downloading now while I wait for Snow Leopard to arrive. I'll at least be able to do iPad development once I get Snow Leopard, but it's not been a big item on my to-do list, so I've delayed. Apparently one version too long. Wish me luck!

Alpha 1 Troubles Continue

I've been trying a variety of different methods to characterize what's happening with my application, but, to date, they've been unsuccessful. I was looking at some crash logs from my phone, but I've been unsuccessful in getting symbolic information for the crash logs. I've been looking online for a solution, but no luck. What I know is that it's not crashing in my code directly - rather, it's buried pretty deep in some core Apple code (which is never terribly helpful). I've been trying to undo the changes I had done to see if that resolves the problem, but, again, no love. I did add some logging to my app and it all seems very happy - my code loads fully and THEN I have a crash.
This is probably the most difficult kind of issue to resolve. First, you don't have anything but the crash logs. Using symbolicatecrash is not an ideal solution to resolving problems. I may need to turn my phone into a dev device and see if I can debug from there. I actually still have several avenues of attack, but they're more alleys than avenues or boulevards. :)
Will keep you updated.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Alpha 1 of New Game Delays (sigh)

Well, the first alpha of the new game is just about complete. Most things have gone as well as I'd hoped, although one section of the game was causing a few more fits and starts than it should have had I just bothered to think about it. I chalk it up to my progressing illness which resulted in being practically incapacitated yesterday and unable to breathe. I have asthma and am not unfamiliar with breathing problems, but this was closing in on how I felt when I was hospitalized with pneumonia and some exotic secondary infection modern medical science was unable to identify (gotta love those). Regardless, I resolved the issue moved on with life.
I then got to the final two things I needed to do before I could begin looking at an Alpha - a basic help screen and, you know, actually getting it ON a device. :) I got a basic help screen image typed up and figured I'd just add a UIImageView object with that as the image to a UIScrollView and voila - it'd all just work. But, no. Nothing on the iPhone seems truly simple and this was no exception. I began working through my primary reference book but it was silent on scrolling. Crap. So I began surfing the web hoping to find something - a few ideas, but nothing that actually did what I expected it to do. As of this morning, no change - help is still not scrolling. *sigh* I may need to create a completely separate application to test the theory and then make sure I've dotted all of the i's and crossed the t's in my app to enable everything.
The second part, which I decided to do after punting on the help, was to get it installing on the device. I had already done that with a previous version and figured this wouldn't be a problem. I built it, installed it, sync'd my iPhone, ran it - and it crashed. CRAP! Oh, wait! Glimmer of hope - I was referencing a local file (I was developing sans network at one point and changed the code). Change the code, reinstall, sync iPhone, run app - crash. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? This was working fine in the simulator... and still does. Okay... Wait - there's some kind of crash log available. Quick search on the web and I find what I need - where it is and what it looks like. And it looks like a symbolic dump of a Windows app with the same level of detail (i.e., none). Wait - what's this "symbolicatecrash" script? It enables you to turn your crash logs into something with actual symbols? Cool. I'll at least know where the crash is. Except that it didn't work. I poked around a little today and think I might have an idea why it's not working as expected, but again - it's delaying Alpha 1. I did try adding some additional checks this morning quickly to see if I could get around what I thought the bug was, but it did nothing. Great...
So, Alpha 1 is practically in the bag. Unfortunately, there are still 2 bugs holding up release to the wild. Okay, it's more of a caged environment, but still. Hoping it will be done in the short term. I would hate to have ANOTHER application for the iPhone that gets stuck in "Alpha Hell".

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Malamanteau, or Why I Hate Wikipedia (Sometimes)

Note: this is not about development, but just a general rant. Read at your own risk.
So you may not have heard all the hubbub over at Wikipedia about the word malamanteau. When I read xkcd that morning, I saw a great rejoinder to the tendency I've seen over at Wikipedia - describing something in terms so esoteric that you need to read the entries for the terms to understand the term they're describing. And if you had trouble following that, welcome to my world.
What is a malamanteau? It's a neologism (a newly created word) that is a combination of a malapropism (using the wrong word for something - alliterate instead of illiterate) and a portmanteau (combining two words to create new one). So a malamanteau is actually a portmanteau as well. Regardless, it was a word invented by Randall Munroe, creator of xkcd, and his comic was genius. So much so that someone went to Wiki and made the page. And that's where the trouble started.
See, Wikipedia has an identity crisis. Is it "the free encyclopedia anyone can edit"? Or is an encyclopedia that has editors and administrators who maintain a level of "respectable enough"? Unfortunately, the entire malamanteau issue has reopened the old wounds (which I'm sure are reopened constantly on other articles). What started as a little bit of fanboy fun turned into a much-larger-than-it-needed-to-be discussion about Wikipedia. If it's more of a "editors and admins" kind of thing, why do they allow tons of information about, say, Pokemon and Lord of the Rings? If it's the encyclopedia that anyone can edit, where is the line drawn between cruft and actual content?
Should the word malamanteau have its own article? Certainly not - it was a joke and, unless we begin to adopt this word into regular usage, not notable enough to engender a regular article. (Note that I will be using this word as often as I can.) But it was the edit- and flame-war that it initiated that was notable. It brought to the fore this division. It brought out the personal attacks ("idiotic fanboys" "WikiNazis"). It became an "us" versus "them" issue, despite that Wikipedia is supposed to be ours.
Is Wikipedia an encyclopedia? Don't people wish. You may not know, but I was a history graduate student for a while. Talk about a discipline requiring, well, discipline about sources. Wiki may have dreams that, when it's grown up a bit, it might be able to claim that. It is a good starting point for doing actual research, but it is not a reliable source in and of itself. Schools have banned it as a resource. No respectable college or grad student would dare place it on any kind of paper/essay/exegesis. Well, having been a TA, I know that they do, but trust me - there is a penalty to pay for that. There is, unfortunately, absolutely no way it can be edited consistently or accurately to make it a true encyclopedia. Too many things slip under the radar - errors, fanboy posts, etc. Too many biases by contributors and administrators are brought to the fore (look at the global warming article discussion - or the Naomi Oreskes article). The authors and editors are not professional copy-editors and researchers (in general). Nor do they have the time to do the job that would need to be done.
So what use does Wikipedia serve? Again, it's a starting point. There are tons of inaccuracies and I don't bother editing anymore because finding a relevant reference is usually too much trouble. But let me tell you - if I ever need information about Pikachu, Wiki is the place to go.

Proto Update

Hola. It's been a good few weeks. I've had less time to work on the proto than I hoped, which isn't completely unexpected. Life's been busy with rehearsals for Patience (opening the first week of June). Lots of work to do and being president of the board means that I get to pick up the odd jobs that need to be done. Plus, I've taken on a task to create shoulder boards for all of the Dragoons. It's not a lot of work, but it is work that needs to be completed this week, preferably before tomorrow (Wed).
As it stands with the prototype, I'm just finishing up the Alpha 1 right now. I've run into code signing issues (why does this have to be so complicated?) that are preventing me from being able to install it on my iPhone. I think I just need to recreate all of my provisioning profiles so I can leverage them across multiple projects.
When I first created my certificates and such it was just for the Samantha Alpha. Now, though, I've learned that I will likely need to have base certs for some things and individual provisioning certs for each application and alpha. Which is good to know, but not something I considered last year.
Anyway, the app is coming along nicely. I've got 5 alpha milestones laid out which should get me to a single beta and then to product. Definitely took on a bit of a life of its own, but I think it'll be fun and worthwhile. I don't think it will bring in any kind of money, but if I get $50 out of it, I'll be happy. :)
So, I'll try to keep updating as this comes closer to release. If you're interested in participating, definitely let me know!