This all feels slightly ridiculous, but getting iOS apps and Android apps to talk to each other via Dropbox is complicated considerably by the issue of Unicode and Character Sets. For anybody who hadn’t realised – computer science is plagued by the effects of the fall, and the legacy of the Tower of Babel is keenly felt. Computers simply can’t agree on how to talk to each other, they can’t even agree on how to speak French – some computers representing characters in a character encoding like UTF8 that uses one byte per letter unless more are needed, and others encoding in UTF16 that uses two bytes per letter unless more are needed.
It would appear that the iOS Dropbox API is saving files out in UTF16 (at least in my app!) whereas Java (and therefore the Android Dropbox API) naturally reads things in UTF8, causing problems!
It feels like total overkill, but in the end I discovered this handy little Java library that can guess what character encoding has been used for a given string: juniversalchardet
After the Kickstarter campaign to bring PrayerMate to Android, I have a few items of PrayerMate branded clothing spare. If you would like to offer your support to the PrayerMate cause, here’s what’s on offer:
Medium T-Shirts x3 – £15
Medium Hoodies x2 – £22
Large Hoodies x2 – £25
It’ll be first come first served, and you can haggle with me over how much postage and packaging you pay. Drop me an email here.
What Would Jesus Do when it comes to leaving online reviews on the App Store or Google Play? What does the Bible have to teach us about how to review apps in an Internet age? It turns out, quite a bit!
I think the clearest bit of teaching on the subject comes from Matthew 18:15-17:
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
Ok, so I’m stretching it a little. But notice that in disputes (particularly between believers) Jesus describes a clear process of escalation:
- Start by telling the person who has offended you in private. This is just good manners. It’s easy to take offence at someone, but there’s a good chance that they weren’t acting maliciously or with evil intent – and raising the matter privately avoids unnecessarily trashing their reputation and giving them a chance to repent.
- If that fails, bring in a couple of others. Sometimes our hearts are stubborn, and it takes a little social pressure to make us see the situation clearly. This still allows for the situation to be dealt with privately and without airing the dirty laundry in public, but helps show the seriousness of what’s going on.
- Finally, if and only if there is still unrepentance, get the whole church family involved. If even the whole body of Christ can’t help this person see what’s wrong, then there’s something really wrong.
So how would Jesus review? Here’s what I reckon:
- He’d begin by raising any issues privately with the developer. If it’s a bug in an app, then the best way to help the developer fix it is to get in touch and give helpful background such as your operating system version and the exact steps you went through. A 1-star app review isn’t the right place to report bugs.
- If reporting the issue fails to produce any response, he’d probably try to discover if it’s a widespread issue, to help the developer see the seriousness of the issue. Maybe he’d tweet or post on Facebook – “anybody else had this issue?” Most app developers are super busy with all sorts of competing priorities, and bugs that are affecting several people are much more likely to get attention than one-offs that are hard to reproduce.
- If the bugs persisted, then he might politely warn others in a review. Sometimes in good conscience you want to leave a negative review of a product, to warn others not to waste their money on something that doesn’t work. But you can still be polite about it! “I wanted to love this product, great concept, but sadly, after long conversations, the developer was unable to resolve some serious flaws”
Some examples of a really bad review:
- 1 star – no explanation. Not even an “I hated it!”. This serves nobody – the developer has no idea how to improve her product, and other potential customers can’t tell whether they’ll hate it too for the same reasons. I’d suggest that this is pretty lazy.
- 1 star – “the app crashed on launch, sort it out, waster!”. If this was the only review left on an app, this might be within the realms of the useful to other potential customers, but (apart from being pretty rude!) it’s very unlikely to actually help you get the app fixed, since the developer has no information to go on. If it’s the only such review amongst hundreds of very positive reviews, then it’s not even all that useful to other users since it’s probably a fairly specific issue that relates to your particular setup (as an aside, I might gently request that if you’re running a beta version of iOS then you should please refrain from leaving reviews about app crashes)
There are some cases where a negative review is appropriate, but I think one should always aim to be courteous, and remember that the person at the other end is a real human being who probably works hard and isn’t deliberately setting out to create rubbish apps:
- Make a clear distinction between the app in general and specific updates / issues. Every app has its catastrophic update that goes disastrously wrong. This is inevitable from time to time. But I’ve also seen excellent reviews in such situations, along the lines of “This is one of my favourite apps but this particular version has serious issues”
What do you think? How do you think Jesus would review apps?
Have you heard about WorshipGOD UK, a new national worship conference that is taking place in the UK hosted by Bob Kauflin and Sovereign Grace Music?
The conference will be held on 5th-8th March 2014, at The Forum, in Bath and host by Bob Kauflin and Sovereign Grace Music. It’s a 3-day event on the theme of “Called to be Faithful” – the idea being that as pastors, leaders, worshippers, musicians and singers, we are not called to be famous or successful, or to put a primary emphasis on being creative, cool or impressive, but faithful. “We will explore what it means to be faithful to receive God’s grace, be faithful to proclaim his Word and gospel, be faithful to serve our local church with the gifts God has given us, be faithful to grow in musical skill, be faithful to prepare people for suffering and death.”
Sounds like a really good thing to me, and an event that I hope will be a real blessing to the church.
The conference will have loads of main sessions and seminars that promise to be “packed with both theological truth and practical instruction”. Speakers include Bob Kauflin and some Sovereign Grace guys (Craig Cabaniss and Jeff Purswell), as well as Mike Reeves, Tim Chester, and Donald Whitney, so it ought to be fantastic. Worship leaders and musicians will include folks from Sovereign Grace Churches in the UK and USA, as well as guests including Stuart Townend and Nathan & Lou Fellingham, and others.
All the details for the conference are on the website. There’s a full list of speakers, seminars, schedule, lodging info and costs. You can follow them on Twitter (@WorshipGODUK) or on facebook.
Looking for a calendar activity that you can plug in to your Android app to let people select dates? Check out Caldroid – attractive design, massively flexible, well written. In short – it’s great!
It took me a while to track down something like this, so I thought I’d give it some Google-juice!
I rarely post on my Old Testament Adventures blog these days, but I made a rare exception today to highlight a new Kickstarter campaign for a Christian Video Game called “The Call of Abraham“.
I don’t know the people involved, and I have no idea whether the game will be any good. But I decided to help fund it, because I think projects like this deserve a fighting chance. It takes money to make a decent game – and I’m sure we all desperately want this game to be done well, however sceptical we might feel. I don’t think we can keep moaning that there are no good Christian games if we’re not willing to lend our support when people with the guts to get on and try something ask for it.
They’ve got just 26 days left to reach a pretty ambitious target – so support the Kickstarter today.
Ever since I launched the PrayerMate app back in May 2011, people have been asking if it could be made available on Android. I’m thrilled to announce that the day has finally arrived, and a basic version of PrayerMate is now available on Google Play and the Amazon Appstore.
PrayerMate is an app designed to help you to actually pray for all the people and causes you care about. You create a little index card for each person, and every time you fire it up it picks a selection for you to pray through. It’s that simple!
Just to set your expectations – this is a VERY cut-down version of the app for now, with just the basic features needed to make it useful. It doesn’t let you subscribe to online feeds or attach your PDF prayer letters yet – it doesn’t even let you add photos at this stage. But it’s a start – just as the iOS version didn’t do any of those things when it first launched either. You can help determine the future direction of the app by voting on the survey linked from the “Settings” menu within the app.
A HUGE thank you to the generous support of everybody who contributed to the Kickstarter campaign to make this happen – I couldn’t have done it without you! And also big thanks are due to London City Mission, whose sponsorship means that the app can be offered free of charge until 31st March 2014.
Do try out PrayerMate for Android, tell all your friends, leave a review on Google Play if you like it, and get in touch to tell me your experiences and if you need any help.
I’m very excited to announce that the PrayerMate Christian Prayer App is now sponsored by London City Mission until 31st March 2014. Thanks to their generous support, you’ll be able to download the iOS app completely free of charge for the duration of their sponsorship (and the Android version too
once that goes live Update: the Android version is now LIVE on Google Play and Amazon Appstore! – sign up here to be notified).
Graham Miller, the CEO of London City Mission, says this:
“London City Mission will only make progress on our knees. I give thanks for PrayerMate making it easier to bring our needs to God. The technology that so often distracts from our spiritual walk is being used to call us back to a healthy habit of daily prayer.”
London City Mission exists to share with the people of London, patiently, sensitively and individually, the transforming love of God in Jesus Christ, and to enable them to join his church.
London City Mission staff and volunteers go to the people of London:
- Where they live – through community ministries based in local churches or the Mission’s own centres and cafés, and through schools work
- Where they work – through chaplaincy ministries, especially among the transport and emergency services
- Where they have settled – through specialised ministries to immigrants and ethnic minorities
- Where they are marginalised – through ministries to prisons, homeless people and street people
- Where they are being cared for – through hospital visiting and pastoral work in care homes for the elderly.