More requirements

Some more utterly blue-sky long term goals for the app. Some of them depend entirely on what the phone can do, and I don’t know if it can or not yet.

  • Attach a photo from the library as an icon for the aircraft. Maybe for locations as well, and/or a link to the Maps application. Link people (other crew and passengers) to Contact app, so you can display a picture, and even look up a phone number to call them to go flying!
  • Import from google docs – or a server to do it if the phone can’t. Or maybe direct import from a SQLite database through iTunes? Don’t know – just need a way to get hundreds of records from a previous log book like AvLogBook.
  • Carry forward totals from previous log books.
  • Checkpoint and export – everything before a certain date is exported and deleted, and running totals (ie carry forward) updated.

On browsers, proxies, and JavaScript

My employer forces me to use Windows XP and Internet Explorer on my desktop at work. This is more than just “our internal apps are only supported on IE”, they’ve somehow locked things down. I tried to install Google Chrome, but it complains about a missing DLL when I fire it up. And Safari, which got dragged in when I installed QuickTime, can’t seem to handle our automatic proxy configuration. One of my cow orkers says he has Firefox installed, so I guess I’ll have to try that next.

This came to a head today because yesterday StackOverflow rolled out some awesome new functionality for tracking your reputation, responses to questions and comments. Yesterday it worked great, both at work with IE and at home with Safari. This morning there was a date rollover that Safari had no problems with, but going to any of the new tracking pages in IE crashes the browser. It’s completely consistent – it happens everytime in exactly the same way.

Ok the plus side, they’ve moved the bug reporting and feature requesting site from to, which means it isn’t blocked by the web filters at work anymore. Which means I can see that I’m not the only one having this problem.

So now it’s time to do battle with the corporate filters to see of I can get Firefox installed and working.

Not a bad day, over all

Thanks to the reading I’ve been doing, and the source code that fellow pilot-geek Kris Johnson sent me, I think I’m starting to get my head around Objective C, if not the iPhone development environment. I answered my first Objective C question on Stack Overflow, and got over 12 upvotes and an accepted answer. Too bad I hit my daily reputation cap. But Kris saw my post almost immediately and commented on my new-found knowledge of Objective C.

The iPhone part is coming along nicely. I’m about halfway through the iPhone Application Programming Guide, and after that there are a couple more papers on the iPhone developer site to read. It might soon be time to start writing some test apps.

After work, I went to the gym and did Dan’s recommended light weights but more sets workout on the machines. The gym is a lot more crowded than it was in December – I wonder if this is just the New Years Resolution crowd, or just that there weren’t a lot of students around in December because of exams and end of quarter work-loads?

And in between, work sucked less than it had been. I got assigned a bug from the “BAU” (which I’m told stands for “Business As Usual”) group, which unlike the “Maintenance group”, actually seems to have some standing in the company.

In the Maintenance group, if you wanted help from somebody in charge of a design document, you had to preface your request with an explanation that you were only Maintenance, so they didn’t have to interrupt anything important to answer you. 50% of the bugs assigned to me are unreproducible, either because they were fixed under different report numbers, or I don’t know enough about some areas of the product to figure out how to reproduce the bug and can’t bother people who do know because I’m just “Maintenance”. Another 25% get put on hold after I figure out the fix because the fix involves a view change, which requires a review from the DBA group, and the DBA group aren’t going to give any priority to reviewing it because I’m just “Maintenance”. And have I mentioned that the bugs I fixed in the first two weeks are finally getting code reviewed on Thursday, 2.5 months after they were fixed? With any luck, they might even get checked into the code for the April release. (And no, I’m not kidding – that’s where I’m told they’re going to go if I can get them approved by code freeze in March.)

Now compare that to my first BAU bug. The bug report had some conflicting information, so I did some research in the design documents. That also had conflicting information, so I was able to have a meeting with one of the designers, and exchange some email with the “owner” of some other part of the functionality. From that, I was able to resolve some of the ambiguity, and decide on a plan of action. There are both GUI and back-end issues in this bug, and I’ve told them I want to fix both sets of issues instead of just the actual “headline” issue, and they agreed. And I get the feeling that there will be more help if I run into other obstacles. I feel positively giddy.

Airplane Prop + CMOS Rolling Shutter = WTF

Check out this utterly awesome picture taken of a Yak aerobatic trainer taken with a iPhone:

Airplane Prop + CMOS Rolling Shutter = WTF on Flickr – Photo Sharing!.

The combination of the slow scan speed of the camera and the movement of the prop has done something fascinating to the image. In the old days, some cameras had moving slits for shutters and they did similar effects to propellors, but usually the props just looked a little bent, rather than discombobulated.

iPhone Logbook App requirements

Ok, so what do I want from an iPhone App? How about I list the requirements as I see them, and order them from highest to lowest? I have an idea that I can then choose a bunch at the top of the list and say “this will be the first release”, then a bunch below that to say “this will be the next release”, and so on down the list.

The perfect iPhone logbook app:

  • Must not require an internet connection!
  • User must be able to enter a new flight.
  • User must be able to browse existing flights.
  • User must be able to total up existing flights
  • A flight consists of a brief description, a series of one or more locations, the aircraft that was taken, and the number of hours spent in certain activities such as “Pilot in Command”, “Cross Country”, “Dual Instruction” as well as counts of other non-timed activities like “Day Landings” or “Precision Approaches”.
  • A particular aircraft should be known by its capabilities so that the user can get totals of time spent in those capabilities, such as single engine or multi engine, land plane or sea plane, complex, high performance, turbo prop, jet, etc.
  • User should be able to filter on date ranges, capabilities, aircraft flown, activities logged, etc, in both the browse and total functions, so, for example, you can total up how many flights you took where you made a night landing in a complex aircraft while pilot in command, or see all the flights where you landed in Syracuse (KSYR).
  • User should be given warnings of “currency” items, based either on recently logged flights, like if you’ve gone 90 days without 3 day or night landings, of for calendar items like when your medical expires.
  • User could track other things in the flight, such as who else flew with you or flight number that would be filter-able
  • User could have an unstructured note field to note down other facts about the flight that are not filter-able.
  • User could export the flight log to a Google Docs spreadsheet. (Some other iPhone apps do this – I wonder if there is an API?) (Obviously an internet connection would be required during this operation)
  • User could import the flight log from a Google Docs spreadsheet. (I have no idea if that’s even possible!)
  • User could customize the duration and count fields for flights.
  • User could customize the rules for currency, even combining several factors.
  • Application could publish an interface so that other apps (like CoPilot, for example), could transfer information from a flight that was planned or flown into the logbook.

That should keep me busy for a while, eh? Any additions?