Helping share the love of the northern lights!

Author: Ronnie Page 1 of 3

It’s Time to Kill Subscriptions

If you subscribed to the app, please use the link at the bottom of the settings screen to go to your subscriptions page and cancel your subscription. The link takes you to your respective App Store subscriptions page.

First of all, to those who supported the development of the Amazing Aurora app through the purchase of a subscription, thank you! You all are awesome and I am glad you are as excited about aurora activity as I am!

As the title says, it is time to kill the subscription portion of the Amazing Aurora app. Why, you might ask? I am a solo hobbyist who came up with a way to tell, for myself, when aurora activity was most likely to happen; and, I created an app to share it. The costs of weather and astronomical data was running about $100 per month and, well, it did not really add much to the app. My goal with subscriptions was to spread that cost out among all of the users who wanted it and, with some of the extra special features (that took a lot of programming), to help get something back for the work put in. At this point, it is getting too intensive to keep up with as the app is currently set up.

When Google and Apple make changes, things in the app have to change as well. Since I am a solo, hobbyist app developer with a full-time job, I have to find time to keep things running smoothly. The in-app purchase ability, which is what ran the subscription portion of the app, has been finicky and, as a lover of good quality, I cannot have an app that is crashing or causing problems across the board. So, with version 9, I have trimmed all of the subscription stuff out and just went back to the basic, good ol’ reliable app that Amazing Aurora started out as. Yes, there is an ad. It helps, a little.

Thank you for using Amazing Aurora! Again, if you subscribed to the app, please use the link at the bottom of the settings screen to go to your subscriptions page and cancel your subscription. I will put a donation page together to track my annual needs to run the app and track any donations paid to help me keep the app running. I am just so grateful that so many people have taken to the app and interact when the solar wind gets crazy. You all are awesome!

Version 7 is LIVE!

I am excited to announce that he latest iteration of the Amazing Aurora app is live on both the Google Play and Apple App Stores! This version cleans up the inner workings of the app a bit, adds an alert when updated versions are available, and adds an HPI notification for subscribers. Also, based on feedback, loading screens are utilized to reduce/eliminate white screens while loading and reloading pages.

Give it a shot and provide feedback! It is amazing to see how far this app has grown thanks to user feedback!

Recovery Complete

As I was working on the app, I noticed the server was running quite strangely. The app started not responding, and I began seeing several database errors on the server. And then, I could not connect to the database. After an unsuccessful attempt to reinstall the database, restoring the entire server from a backup was made. I lost all data from approximately 8:00am AKDT to just after midnight. However, I am happy to report that everything has been restored and appears to be functioning fine. Thank goodness for backups.

Testing and Maintenance Updates

Testing is going well on the next iteration of the Amazing Aurora app! I am dusting off some neglected areas and using some polish to shine it all up. The new version is also going to incorporate the ability to put the app into a maintenance mode. Although I do not expect to need to use it often, there may be times when things “under the hood” need to be addressed. In an effort to minimize confusion among users, a maintenance flag can be set to shut down usage of the app. It also helps cut down on error logs on the server while things are being tested to ensure they work in the live environment.

Speaking of maintenance, this has been high on my list for the past year. There were a lot of IDs generated early on and, potentially, some stale duplicates left over from early testing. That said, the server now runs an hourly check to see if users have been inactive for at least six months. If so, the ID information for that user is wiped clean from the database. Since aurora season runs for the “Great North” from August to April and is silent, for the most part, from May to August, six months seemed like a great compromise to keep things tidied up a bit.

I hope you are as excited as I am for the next season of aurora chasing! The app only continues to get better thanks to the user base providing feedback and, quite frankly, running the wheels off the bus! You all are amazing!

Changes to Settings Screen

The settings screen in the app got a makeover. Switches and sliders are gone. They felt clunky and, after some tester feedback (thanks, Chad!), the decision was made to kill the sliders for Kp and HPI alert values. Instead, subscribers can now toggle these up and down with arrows. It’s simpler, cleaner, and easier to adjust.

Settings Screen for Version 7

I’m putting the finishing touches up on this version! The goal is to have all the bugs, kinks, and design flaws worked out by Sunday so I can push to Google and Apple. This will allow time to tweak anything I may have missed, policy wise, before the end of the month. Who’s ready for aurora season?! I know I am!

Inching Closer to Version 7!

I am feverishly working on several aspects of updating the app for the upcoming season. I am grateful for the feedback I have received from users through either email, Facebook messenger, text, or even through the app reviews on the stores. Those really give me direction to continue working on improving the experience (aurora and app) for everyone! If you are curious, here is a list of things I am working on to get the app updated by August 1st:

  • Black loading/reloading screens to kill the white (kills night vision) reload pages
  • Adding the hemispheric power input to an alert so users can get advanced notice when potential increases (subscriber feature)
  • Cleaning up and adjusting notifications; uncovered some issues with keys and programming logic
  • Cleaning up the server and moving old data to its own archived database

It’s been a pretty busy off-season working behind the scenes, but I am confident the changes will only make the app, user experience, and community much better! And, I wouldn’t be where I am without the help of a few patient souls. A special shout out to Chad, Rachel, and Sarah for being testers and providing feedback on this next iteration of Amazing Aurora!

Testing Maintenance Mode

This post is just to test the landing page for the new maintenance mode coming with version 7.

Beta 7 in Testing!

I am excited to report that version 7 of the app is now with the testers to dig up any bugs or design flaws! I am anxious to get this one out as it implements some user suggestions and allows subscribers to fine-tune their alerts even further with the HPI notifications. When HPI hits a certain level, you can be alerted. This will work very well if you know what the hemispheric power typically is when you see aurora activity in your area!

I am still on track to have this latest update out before the season starts back up for those of us in Alaska!

Getting Closer to Beta 7!

Work has been ongoing with the version 7 update. It has taken quite a while to reconfigure a myriad of things within the app, but things are rolling along smoothly. All of the desired changes I have made appear to be working with initial tests. With some of the updates, I will need to update files on the server to accept new values from within the app. The good news is that I am still on track for a June/July release to the beta test team to put the app through its paces and make sure nothing was overlooked. We are less than 90 days away from the start of the 2022-2023 aurora season!

Fixing Bugs and Crashes

As we move well out of aurora season here in Alaska, I have begun working studiously on the next iteration of the Amazing Aurora app. This next version should, in theory, be better for Android users. Why Android users you ask? Well, there have been a TON of crashes with version 6 of the app and I believe I know why. I won’t bore you with all of the technical details, but it looks like it was a simple oversight in the programming aspect of the app. I will get a test version out to my beta test team in the next month or so to see if crashes still occur.

Crashes in the Android app over the past year

I also have a few bugs to work on within the app. As mentioned earlier, there is a location bug that seems to put people in Minot, North Dakota. I believe I have a viable solution to fix that and will, hopefully, work to phase out the default North Dakota map dot often seen on aurora reports. I am hopeful all of these changes will help make the app run smoother and provide a better experience for everyone!

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