New App: ResumeTube (iPad)

Resume What?

A few months back I finally decided to try making an app to solve an issue that has been a (nerdy) annoyance of mine for quite some time. The issue, if you haven’t deducted from the title of this post, is the fact that neither YouTube nor Vimeo “remember” the place you last left off in a video if you can’t watch the whole thing in one sitting. So the core idea behind ResumeTube is to always “resume” where I leave off in a YouTube or Vimeo video.

I’ll admit this may sound like a silly, shallow “problem” to some people but I think anyone who consumes YouTube and Vimeo video content on a regular basis will understand and appreciate the frustration factor here. However, ultimately I made this app for myself so I’ll judge it’s success on whether I continue to use it or not long-term.

See below or head over to the Apple App Store if you want to read the full app background, future ideas, etc. Head over to the ResumeTube Facebook page if you have any questions, comments or suggestions about it! Please leave an app review or a Facebook like if you can to help out!

PS: Any friends and family interested in trying this out let me know and I’ll send you a promo code.

1.0 Screenshots

App Store Details

Finally a YouTube and Vimeo video player that saves your place!

Have you ever found yourself scrubbing the YouTube or Vimeo video progress bar back and forth trying to remember where you stopped watching a video last time only to experience one or more of the following?
* You can’t remember where you left off
* That the 6 minutes you had to watch a bit more of the video are now gone
* All that excessive scrubbing makes your video player or network go haywire?

Maybe I’m the only one who has far too frequently found himself in the above situations … but if you have also been frustrated by this kind of thing as well I hope you find this app useful as I do.

I made this app for me but if other people find it useful that’s great!

App Purpose
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The main purpose of this app is to make it easy to watch videos from YouTube and Vimeo over multiple sittings without losing your place. The goal is to never have to scrub back and forth to find your place in a video ever again!

App Features
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* Simple web video player for YouTube and Vimeo videos
* App will always resume a video where you last left off!
* Can import YouTube and Vimeo video URLs as well as YouTube playlist URLs.
* Jump-ahead and jump-back [15-600] seconds!
* Jump-to specific time in video!
* HD video support
* Time stamp detection in video descriptions (tap a time stamp to move the video to that point!)
* Allows up to 48 videos at once in playlist
* Basic playlist filtering and search functionality
* 4 color themes to choose from

Future Features?
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Pending time and interest I may add some of the following features:

* iPhone version
* Dropbox Sync (so your video progress data syncs across your devices)
* “Favorite” video flagging
* Favorite time stamp video bookmarking (save spots in a video to return to later!)
* Playlist categories
* Better video list edit options (batch delete, etc)
* More intuitive YouTube playlist management
* Support for other video services besides YouTube/Vimeo?

Other Stuff
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* On a side note I have to give a shout out to an app/platform I use named “Plex”. Plex reminded me that all video can (and should) have intelligent “resume” functionality and I use it exclusively for all my TV and movie watching. However Plex’s system for resuming YouTube and Vimeo videos has been fairly buggy for me for the past couple years so I had no choice but to make my own app!

* All YouTube, Vimeo and example video content copyrights belong to their respective owners.

Known Issues
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* Sometimes if there are network connection issues on your end or a video host’s end this app or your device may need to be restarted before video playback will continue.

* Certain videos may not play through this app depending on how the author or video host have configured the video embed settings.

* Tapping the YouTube or Vimeo logos in the bottom right corner of a video may cause the YouTube or Vimeo app to “take over” this app’s window. If this happens you’ll need to do a full close of the app and relaunch it. Still looking for a fix for this.

* Report any issues found at the Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/ResumeTube-139143359823864

Eat the Eggs! Minecraft Mod 01

I’ve always been a (PC gaming) “mod” nerd. One of my favorite things about Minecraft has always been the vast amount of super fun and creative mods that the community has produced of the years. Anyhow for various reasons I recently I got a small itch to try my hand at making a Minecraft mod myself. It was part developer curiousity and part gamer need. Basically for whatever reason Minecraft has never let you actually EAT the eggs you get from chickens in the game – yet in survival mode your player can die from starvation by day 2 or 3 if you don’t find any food. So my mod concept was simply to make eggs edible. Just to be clear – this isn’t a new idea … others have made similar mods or mods that incorporated something around the same lines. However most if not all of those mods are outdated and no longer work.

Anyhow … after tinkering around with things and watching a few tutorial videos by the Minecraft mod genius Mr Crayfish I was able to create my first ever Minecraft mod which I decided to call … “Eat the Eggs!”. By the way Mr Crayfish’s mods and other projects are simply awesome – that guy is an all around genius.

Anyhow … after I got to a good stopping point I posted the mod for others to check out and as of this post ~650 people have downloaded it so far! That doesn’t speak to my mod’s awesomeness by the way it simply speaks to the crazy number of people who play Minecraft and who are also “mod” nerds like me. Either way – very cool! Some kind soul even made a 5 minute showcase video of it! Check it out.

I by no means claim to be any kind of Minecraft mod developer expert now – but I definitely had fun making it and may even try my hand at a 2nd mod soon … we will see.

PocketSwatch 2.0 Update

I’m excited to announce that the 2.0 update to my color swatch app “PocketSwatch” is finally finished and released!

What’s New?

  • Apple 64bit Requirement:  First of all – the main reason I decided to update the app in the first place was because PocketSwatch would have been taken off the App Store if I didn’t update it to meet Apple’s new 64-bit requirements before June or July this year … so I was forced to let that happen or at the very least republish it w/the updated 64-bit stuff.
     
  • Photo Mode!: While I was dusting things off I got the idea to re-research the notion of adding a “Photo” mode to the app that allowed users to pull colors from the camera or photos since I wasn’t able to do it for the initial release. After a helpful boost in the right direction from a helpful article written by my pal Raymond Camden* I was able to get this functionality built out and working. So … as seen in the banner graphic above there is now a full-fledged “Photo” mode to the app that let’s users select photos or take new photos w/the camera and create color swatch sets from them! So if you’ve ever wanted to know what the RGB color value of a yellow Skittle is … now you can find out!
    The functionality isn’t perfect yet by any means but it definitely does the job and I think it’s a fine starting point at a minimum.
    *Raymond has no idea who I am – I just pretend that he and I are pals
     
  • UI Update: Naturally I couldn’t resist cleaning up the look and feel of things to keep up with the times so the app icon and overall look of the app both got a mini face lift.
     
  • Other Misc Stuff: There are a handful of other updates (additional background textures, bit better Pantone® color handling and a few other things.

Google Play / Android!

One last thing … the other idea I had while working on updating the app was to attempt to take another stab at getting PocketSwatch compiled and working on Android devices. I tried this during the previous/initial version of the app but I had very little experience with Android dev at that point, plus the framework I use (PhoneGap) was a bit more rough around the edges then. Anyhow – thanks to having a bit of a better starting point on both of those fronts this time I was able to do it … so PocketSwatch is now available on the Google Play app store as well!
On a related note – since the Google device situation is so insane (i.e. way too many types of phones and even worse variety of operating system versions across devices) I wasn’t able to go overboard testing Android much. I think most modern phones will do fine w/it but older ones with older operating system versions may/may not perform great. If anyone actually downloads it on an Android device and reports trouble I will look into it of course … as time permits yadda yadda.

Until next time! …

PocketSwatch App Store Links:

 

Oh yeah – here’s the preview video of the new version in action!

PocketSwatch 2 from Chris Emerson on Vimeo.

My first Chrome App: Searchr!

I stayed up far past my bedtime tonight to get this thing wrapped up and shipped so I figured I’d put up the post for it now too.
This evening I finished the first release build of my first Google Chrome app named “Searchr!“. What in the world is it? Well here’s the app description I’m going with:

Searchr! is an easy-to-use flickr photo search app for Google Chrome focused on speed and convenience! Tired of clicking 15 times just to get to a download link for your favorite flickr photo? This app makes that simple and fast in addition to other time-saving features.

Honestly I figured there would already be dozens of this kind of thing out there – and I’ve looked for them for last couple years – but unless I was looking in all the wrong places it’s just not. Yeah there are a couple flickr Chrome apps and extensions that do various thing – but nothing that useful or impressive AFAIK.
Anyhow – if it’s not obvious this was an app I made for myself because it drives me nuts how long it takes to get to a URL or download (original) link for an image on flickr … plus pretty much anything on flickr takes too long for my impatient self – so this app addresses that.

There is definitely more I want/need to do here. Right now it’s heavily reliant on “tags” for finding photos. Eventually I’ll expand the search scope to parse more than that – but since I live and breathe by tags this will work for me for a while. So when I want to find my “favorite,lincoln,corgan” photos between 2009 and 2010 … I can now do it in seconds!

On a technical note – this thing wasn’t very hard to build. Most of the work here leveraged skills I use at work (and play) every day anyhow so while I did learn a few things along the way it wasn’t a big deal at all to put this together – it’s really just a wrapped up web app. I also had a good laugh that I got it published in mere minutes after uploading the files to Google … contrast that with Apple’s 1-2 week review time for the App Store!

Hopefully other folks will find it useful. If any of you dig it or think of things that I should add or alter drop by the Facebook support page and post a note!
https://www.facebook.com/searchrapp

The official download link for the app on the Google Chrome web store is here:
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/searchr/phldilnakifhbgllkiopclbdchkdcfoc

Wooden Clock Update for iOS 7

A large part of the reason I made Wooden Clock a couple years ago was just to try out the, then new, Adobe AIR-to-IOS development and deployment process to see if there was any life left in the notion of hanging on to my Flash “developer” roots. In the end while I obviously got the app published to the App Store I was not won over with the Adobe tools or workflow for the job. It wasn’t as bad as Android development (still is) but I still definitely did not enjoy it since the app’s performance wasn’t what I’d hoped for, the testing workflow was annoying and buggy and working in the Flash IDE was often infuriating for multiple reasons.

As time went on I worked more and more with the Cordova (a.k.a. PhoneGap) platform – which Exports native mobile apps from HTML web apps – and I grew pretty fond of it. Naturally after a while the question popped in my head:

“Would Wooden Clock re-written in HTML perform as well or better than the old Flash version in the App Store?”

Since free time was (and still is) so hard to come by this wasn’t something I could justify trying out anytime soon so I just tabled it for a rainy day that would likely never come. But after getting a few blog comments and emails about Wooden Clock having problems with Apple’s latest software update (iOS 7) I decided I may as well kill two birds with one stone and attempt to migrate the app from Flash to HTML.

So over the past couple weeks using an hour here and there I exported the various clock graphics from Flash and rebuilt the app as a HTML web app.  Overall Things went fairly smooth and I was surprised to discover that the app’s performance seemed as good if not better than it was in the Flash version.

New Flat Style

As I was rewriting the app I wondered what difference, if any, using flat imagery would have on the performance of the clock so I created a secondary set of graphics to allow users to toggle between a flat style or the default (wooden) style. Honestly it would have probably made more sense if I had tried comparing the image performance against canvas object performance since I’m pretty sure image complexity/color-count has very little affect on performance – but I’m not a canvas pro so I stuck with images. The clock does seem slightly more fluid/responsive when using the flat design but the difference is pretty subtle.

Flat Style

A side-effect of throwing in this flat style is that I may actually be able to create full-fledged additional clock skins in the future too – this would never happen if the app had stayed Flash-based.

Flat Icon?

Since iOS7 has a new “flat” look to everything I made an attempt to update Wooden Clock’s icon to fit in. However since most of this app’s cool-factor is based on how realistic and rich the graphics are coming up with a flat version of the icon is a pretty challenging (possibly impossible) task. I landed on something I could live with for now but I’m not in love with it – so maybe I’ll come up with something more interesting later.

iOS7 Icon
iOS7 Icon
Original Icon
Original Icon

For comparison here’s how Apple changed one of their own icons:

iOS7 Icon
iOS7 Icon
Original Icon
Original Icon

App Store Timing

The updated version of Wooden Clock is currently in the Apple App Store review process and should be live in a few days.