Update on Beetight for iPhone and iPad

February 19th, 2011

I’m afraid there’s going to be a delay to Beetight for iPhone and iPad. I took a phone call from Apple today saying that they’re applying the rules more strictly than they have before, and won’t be allowing any apps that have paid accounts unless there is also the facility to upgrade using Apple’s In-App Purchasing. This basically means that before they’ll allow the app in the store, I have to set up Beetight to support Apple subscriptions as well as PayPal. As you can imagine, this is not a simple task. This is quite aside from the fact that Apple will then be taking 30% of any payments I get. I had quite a long chat with the guy, and there’s basically no way around it. Even if I was to make the app available to all users, whether pro or not, I’d still be in violation, because Pro accounts add extra functionality. I pointed out to him that apps like Spotify have subscriptions that are paid for elsewhere. He essentially told me that they’ll be facing the same rules. There’s a bit more about the changes here.

I won’t do anything initially, but I may end up having to put up prices by a couple of dollars or so to help cover the slice that Apple is taking. I’m not allowed to charge more for payments through them, so it would have to be an increase for every new Pro account. I’ll try to avoid this, and will see how the numbers add up once it’s live, in terms of the percentage of upgrades that are done in the app rather than on the site (where I only pay the PayPal fee, which is far lower). Existing Pro accounts will still be billed at the current prices, so don’t worry there. I’ll give plenty of warning to everyone else before I make any price changes.

This is all very frustrating, as I have an completed app that I’d love for people to be able to use, and I know lots of you want to be using it too. I’m sorry for everyone who has been waiting patiently for so long. All I can say is that I’ll try and get this implemented as soon as I can. My aim is to have it resubmitted by the end of the week, and then they should hopefully have it reviewed within another week. I’ll keep everyone up to date on Facebook and Twitter.

- Matt

Beetight for Android

November 21st, 2010

I’m really happy to announce Beetight for Android, a native app for Android phones and tablets. This lets you add all of your hive inspection records on your phone, even if your offline. It also supports photo upload, so you can take photos when doing your inspection and upload them right from in the app. Beetight barcodes are supported, so you can scan your hive labels to easily identify your hives.

Beetight for Android is free for Beetight Pro users, which costs just $15 per year. To install it, just search for Beetight in the Android Market.

Loads more inspection fields available

June 6th, 2010

I’ve just added dozens more fields to the Beetight hive inspections, including pretty much every suggestion that I’ve been given. As nobody will need them all, you can now enable or disable the ones you do or don’t need by going to your user settings. Hopefully they should cover most of the things you would like to ever record! Currently I haven’t updated the printable sheets, but that will be soon. Let me know if you have any questions.

New mobile version and Blackberry support

June 1st, 2010

I’ve just released a new basic mobile version of Beetight. The previous (touch) version was optimised for iPhones, Android and similar devices. However, it didn’t work very well for devices such as Blackberry as well as older or more basic phones. There is now a version which should work for them too. The touch version is still delivered to iPhone, Andoid and other Webkit-based devices, as well as Opera Mini and Windows Mobile. The iPad now has the full site, rather than the mobile version. The new version is delivered to all other mobile devices, including Blackberry. I’d particularly welcome feedback from beekeepers who are able to try using their Blackberry for keeping hive records.

Facebook login

May 28th, 2010

Some new buttons have appeared on the login and signup pages! I’ve just implemented Facebook logins. This means that you don’t even need to set up an account to use Beetight: you can use your Facebook account instead. Also, if you already have a Beetight account, if the email address is the same you can use your Facebook account to login as well. It’s quite simple: you just click “Login with Facebook”. This pops up a window that asks you to grant access. We only need your publicly available information. We also ask for your email address so we can check if you already have a Beetight account and log you into that. Don’t worry: we never see your Facebook password or anything like that.

Hopefully this should all be quite simple, and make it even easier to get started. I thought that as Facebook is our biggest source of users it would make sense to let you use your Facebook login.

Bulk add multiple hives

May 25th, 2010

A request that has come up a few times from Beetight users with large numbers of hives is that they’d like a way to add or edit several at once. The good news is that you can now add several hives at once. You choose the number of hives you want to create, which type they are, and what the colony source is, and it adds them all in one go. You can add up to 1000 at a time, which should save a lot of time for those of you with lots of hives. Certainly easier than filling in the details a thousand times! Here’s a screenshot:

Try it for yourself here, though before you go creating hundreds as a test, remember there’s currently no way to bulk delete them!

New inspection fields

May 24th, 2010

Hi all. I’m currently working on all of the requests for extra inspection fields. What I plan to do is to let users set a preference for which fields to show, so that people can choose how to use it without having the forms grow unmanageably large. There are lots of useful suggestions on the Get Satisfaction site, but a definitive list of suggestions here would be good. I’ll start it off with the ones I can assemble from those already suggested.

Some possible ideas. You’ll be able to turn these on or off if you don’t need them:

  • Orientation flights seen (0-5 scale)
  • Pollen seen going in (0-5 scale)
  • Foraging bees seen (0-5 scale)
  • Traffic per minute (count)
  • Bees on ground
  • Comb building (0-5 scale)
  • Young larvae seen (y/n)
  • Frames sealed brood (count)
  • Frames of open brood (count)
  • Frames of pollen (count)
  • Frames of honey/nectar (count)
  • Total frames of bees (count)
  • Supercedure cells (count)
  • Swarm cells (count)
  • Weather conditions
  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Wind
  • Barometric pressure

Any other suggestions?

New feature for Pro users: apiary maps and Google Earth

May 21st, 2010

I’ve just released a brand new feature that quite a few people have requested. You can view all of your apiaries at a glance on a large map, and click to see details about each one. You can also display them in Google Earth by clicking the button to download the KMZ file. It’s particularly useful if you have hives in lots of locations. Here’s a pic.

It’s a feature just for Pro users, so if you haven’t upgraded yet you’ll need to if you want to give it a try. This is the first of several new features planned for Pro users that I’ll be releasing in the next few weeks. Watch this space!

In related matters, you can also now manually specify the latitude and longitude of an apiary, as well as the existing GPS and address methods. As usual, let me know what you think of the changes.

Server fail

March 25th, 2010

The beep of a server failure notification is a sysdmin’s most hated sound. What’s worse though is if you don’t get the alert. I won’t go into detail of why I didn’t get the alert (new server, old phone basically) but it meant I didn’t get the SMS alert. As with all server problems they always happen at the worst time. This one was just before I went to bed, just after I’d checked my email for the last time. When I got up this morning I was greeted by an inbox full of notifications from humans and monitoring software. The whole site was returning Not Found errors.


It didn’t take too long to find the problem.

xfs_force_shutdown(sdf,0x2) called from line 1043 of file /build/buildd/linux-ec2-2.6.31/fs/xfs/xfs_log.c. Return address = 0xc02ea4e3
Filesystem "sdf": xfs_log_force: error 5 returned.

This means that the filesystem that carries the site had died. The site is hosted on an Amazon EC2 instance, with the site and database on a separate Amazon EBS volume. The latter appears to have let out the magic smoke. Luckily it just took a quick reboot to bring it all back to life and shift it to new hardware. No data seems to have been lost.

All I can do is apologise to everyone who has been inconvenienced by this, and assure everyone that I’ve updated the monitoring procedures to ensure this doesn’t happen again. This includes sending the messages to the phone I just use for alerts, a Samsung B2100 that won’t let me down. It’s basically indestructible and the battery lasts nearly a month. Take a look!

Sneak peek at new feature

March 21st, 2010

One of the big features coming for Beetight Pro users will be asset tracking. This will let you keep track of all of your hive components, so you know which hives have got which honey supers and so on, as well as which parts came from where and which need repair. There will be come pretty cool stuff involving the 2D barcodes to keep track of it all. One main part of this will be the hive organiser. This is a little video with a sneak peek of how it is coming along. It will almost certainly change quite a bit before it’s done, but it gives you an idea of how it will work. On the right you have the “shed” which hold all of the components not currently being used. You can drag and drop the parts onto the hive, then drag to rearrange. Obviously things will look a bit different for top bar hives, Beehaus etc.

This is at an early stage, so it may be a little while before it’s fully complete. I do hope to release some bits for preview a bit earlier. Asset tracking will be a Pro-only feature, so upgrade now if you want to be first to try it out!