Sunday, December 7, 2014

100 Users!

We just cracked 100 users last night thanks to our friends at Fordham University partying hard!  Over winter break, I plan to do some much needed polishing on the Android app and adding random extra functionality to the back end.  I am interested in implementing private parties that require a password to join on the front end as the back end was completed some time ago.    I also plan to address the issue of a login only lasting for a couple hours.  Maybe I will add websockets.  The websockets are not a priority right now because the site seems to be handling our current traffic well.  The websockets are a priority, however, for us to complete a number of future functionalities we wanted like keeping the time synced across devices and volume control over votes.

Monday, November 3, 2014

iOS Update

Since we got approved as a Facebook app (meaning we can finally ship Facebook login to users), I have worked towards getting that set up for everyone and it's working wonderfully!  Even better news, we've got an approved beta build and testing set up.  So for HackRPI I will be pushing the app to up to 1000 testers!  So that's really exciting.

Things to fix: QR Code reader needs a back button.  Joining still doesn't work right.  Fix that.

Otherwise, looking really great!


Monday, October 27, 2014

News from the backend

Sorry I haven't made any posts yet this semester but I have been getting a bunch done.  I realized that we could potentially have session hijacking problems.  After some research, I found a possible solution here that I attemped to implement.  It was successful and it worked well until I realized that there were concurrency issues.  Specifically, when a session token was renewed, there were often multiple requests from a client being handled at the same time and the script considered the requests with the old token to be proof of theft.  I commented out this process for the time being because it was a serious usability issue and not a huge security issue.  In the mean time, I figured out how to set up ssl with the server so that session theft is less likely to happen in the first place.  FaceBook integration was another huge improvement that took place.  Since a few minutes before writing this post, we got a notification that FaceBook login has officially been approved for MeNext!  At our last presentation at RCOS, Kevin O'Connor gave us the idea to use websockets instead of AJAX calls every 5 seconds to keep the video queue and current video updated.  This is now my major project because I believe that it could potentially be the biggest improvement to the efficiency and responsiveness of the site.  The problem that I am currently facing with this portion is sharing session data between apache and the script that would be running the websocket.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Major Progress on iOS

Facebook Login AND QR Code joining of groups is nearly complete!

I migrated from an external library for QR Code to roll-your-own AVFoundation code using a subview and AVCaptureMetadataOutputObjectsDelegate code.

This is crunch time, and the app store is coming soon.


Monday, October 13, 2014

iOS update: 10/14

QR code has been implemented, working the bugs out and testing that soon.  Also partially through Facebook login.  Have to remove old login and fully implement FB but the button is working.  Other than that, I have enrolled in the iOS Dev program, so were all set to publish when the app is finished. This is crunch time, and we have to finish within the next few weeks to allow time to process the App Store requests.

The dependency list is really growing!  Facebook, ZBarSDK, Image cache libraries, networking libraries.  I can't believe the app has gotten so big.  I'm really glad that my first real iOS project isn't some tiny app no one will use. It's a huge app that a few people might use maybe. :)


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Facebook Integration!

The past week has been exceptionally hectic and interesting for the MeNext crew -- we started exploring Facebook integration. This was prompted by an issue with user authentication that we believe can be solved by using the Facebook login API. Jim read over the iOS documentation for the framework and begun preparing for implementation. Josh did the same for Android, along with registering for an API key from Facebook. I begun working on a revamped, simpler login page to accommodate the change.

Monday, September 29, 2014

iOS Update

Almost ready to ship, have to fix the app knowing if it's logged in and have to fix some interface constraint bugs.  Otherwise basically ready for the App Store!

I've had a lot of coursework for algorithms and multivariable lately, so it haven't been able to push much code, but it will be back on track soon!

Lots of stuff ahead, and only around a month left to be ready to ship.

Expect code this week, by the end of the week, I'd hope.  It not, then this weekend. 


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Test Run of Web Service

Last night, the Hackathon Club held their first "Hacks out of a Hat" mini hackathon. So, Josh and I thought it would be a good opportunity to test out the MeNext platform in a small test case. For the first hour, the app ran flawlessly, aside from a few graphical bugs that have since been patched. Later on in the event, we noticed that every so often the party host kept getting logged out of the service. It seemed as if it happened particularly when someone downvoted the song currently playing, so we temporarily disabled that feature. However, it turned out to be an issue with session cookies, which Josh is currently working on. On the front end, tweaks and new features are being rolled out on an as-soon-as-finished basis. The mobile applications are coming along well.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Upcoming Semester

We're working this semester to get the app ready for the hackathon being held here in November.  That means major progress needs to be made on the android app, and I need to finish up iOS.  All this and tying the apps and web front end in with the backend changes that will come this semester (like using cookies for login, instead of a body-held token) will take a lot of work.  We're looking for an Android programmer, which I was approached about today and a front-end dev who can work with the bootstrap framework we're using (Josh/Wyler can confirm what exactly is going on for frameworks there).

We need this to basically be ready for the big beta test at the Hackathon.  We need to be doing testing before then.  So this means we need to be done with the apps specifically before November.  We need an android dev who can pick up the existing code and get it done really quickly.  We need basically everything done besides form creation.  We need data communication with the server, we need communication with the google/youtube apis, both through JSON and HTTP requests.  This may not be the best project for an inexperienced programmer.

Things up ahead this semester for features:

  • Change login over to cookies
  • Finish joining other parties functionality
  • Complete Android over-haul specifically
  • Getting our product closer to shipping by fixing bugs and optimizing existing code
  • Publishing in the app store(?)
We definitely need help to get this going.


Monday, August 4, 2014

Android update

I'm not going to lie, working with Android is a nightmare. The IDE Google provides is barely functional, the toolchain used to build the application is temperamental at best, and the ADT in general just shoves everything that Java does wrong down your throat. I've made progress, just very little. This project has been mostly a learning experience with a new platform that I can honestly say I've come to hate. If there are any experienced developers that want to take over the reins on this project, shoot me an email at

The progress I have made includes sanitizing the user's input, a semi-functional login, and an updated UI. Though if someone does decide to take over this project, I'd love to be able to finish the artwork for it, since that's really what I wanted to do originally anyway. If not, I'll do my best to crunch out something that at least works by November for the hackathon.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

iOS Update

So far so good on the iOS application.  Working on getting voting sorted out, and then search/adding videos to a party.  After that, joining new parties, and other cool features.  The app is/will be where we wanted it to be for this summer, so mission successful on the iOS side.  Almost over for the summer, only two meetings left.  We'll be presenting again at meeting 12, so I'll hopefully have the ability to display a demo then.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Web Update

The web project has been coming along fairly well, I have switched the framework from bootstrap to base for two reasons. First of all, it is easier to develop for with fewer abstractions, and secondly, it renders using fewer layers, which means better loading times (below the 200ms recommended threshold) on both PC and mobile, This meant a little extra time, but a better look for the website. The theme has switched from the initial purple and gold to a slate theme following the existing logo that Emmett had made, using the red from the logo, a dark blue to contrast it, and a dark green (likely going to change) to complement it. Minor tweaks to buttons and such have been where most of the time has been going, just getting it looking as cohesive as possible.

On my plate right now is to fix the button that opens up the search form so that it is easier to tell what the button actually does. I also need to minify the base.css, which should be very quick, and find a better color for the background of the tables, which right now blends into the background of the website itself too much.

Josh has been working on the database and getting the voting system implemented, once that is done, the buttons should not be too hard to get working, I want to get some sort of static color between the upvote and downvote buttons so that only one can be selected at a time, and losing focus doesn't cause them to revert to the default gray color. I am also considering removing the external video controls, just because the fullscreen is not really functional on a few devices/operating systems/browsers, and that and the play/pause button are already in the player, as well as volume controls, which would be silly to remove.

Josh also recently gave the team a look at the original concept for the project, and it has come a very long way since then. Hopefully it starts to look even better over these last few weeks.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Mobile Update

Great progress on the iPhone app! Was ready for demo last Tuesday, and now it's getting more work done to it.  I'm working towards adding a track to a party's queue. This includes searching YouTube through out API's search function. Pretty exciting stuff, working at it diligently.  Looking at another presentation not this Tuesday, but the next.  Hopefully will have it to show then.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Mobile Update: 7/2

So far so good on the iOS end. Still working towards data communication. Code is in place for login (and tested to work) as well as for getting parties and tracks for a party (not yet working).  This is my number one concern, then I'll be adding features for adding a track and for making a new party.  Also in the future is multiple color themes, but aesthetics come secondary to functionality in the development queue.

Presentation coming up, so Emmett is on top of that stuff and in trying to get a better demo up. I'd like to have data stuff done by Tuesday to show off the app at Tuesday meeting.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

6/25 Mobile Update

On the Mobile end of things, the iPhone interface and base has been laid (with some code universal for iPad, but that will come later).  My current task is to implement Youtube API and MeNext API stuff for iPhone as well as a formal login procedure.  Android is coming along as well, with the same tasks.  Emmett has been working mostly on updating the graphics for the project, so expect new graphics soon.

Here's an early prototype for the login screen on iOS!  (Don't worry, Emmett fixed the colors!)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Web update: 6/17/2014

Hopping on the project has been pretty easy, the existing code is easy to understand, and making changes is not hard at all. I've started with cleaning up the login page, and it is at a point that I'm happy with at the current time; maybe in the future I will go back and fix some more things, but in the meantime I will be starting work on the main page, which is almost entirely the song queue for all users.

The current color scheme is a purple and gold and could use some tweaking (please send feedback), but currently it gets the idea across. Beyond that I'll be looking into improvements for the youtube player and possibly attempt to add soundcloud, vimeo, or some other media base to the project.


(Blog updates will be coming more frequently)

Friday, June 6, 2014

Mobile Update: 6/6/14

Emmett and I are both approaching the end of our respective tutorials.  This means the beginning of next week, the foundations of the iOS app will be started and the Android code will probably be getting a much needed cleaning.  On top of that, Android JSON and API stuff is up next.

As far as iOS knowledge gained, today I wrote an example app to allow for the tapping of a table cell to display a photo, and then for that to have a details button to transition to information about the photos, all with transitions and full images.  Looking ready to get started very soon.  Objective-C is awesome and I love developing for iOS so far.


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Mobile Update: Summer

Since writing our original summer Proposal, Emmett and I have discussed revisions.  We're dropping Windows phone.  The customer base to work ratio is just too low.  We'll be focusing on Android and iOS.  I'll be handing off Android to Emmett, for the most part and I'll be taking care of iOS, for the most part.  I say for the most part, because we plan to be collaborating regardless of platform, and we figure we'll mix more so we can get two minds on each platform.  Emmett's primary task at the moment is picking up Android and learning JSON (so he can help me with it, since I have no idea what I'm doing in the realm of JSON) and my primary task is iOS and Objective-C educational tutorials from  I'm almost through Objective-C (it's not that bad, thank you Data Structures) and I'll be going back to the iOS specific stuff soon.

Should be a good summer, I'm happy to be starting something like this.  I think there is more work with just these two platforms than we originally anticipated, and there will be more than enough for two people throughout the Summer.

On the side of the non-mobile devs, I know Josh (and maybe others) is working on the API documentation for interfacing with the server through JSON.  By the time we get that, Emmett should be up to speed on Android and he'll hopefully be able to implement that without much pause in-between.

Emmett will also be doing any graphics work and presentation work for the project, since he's a design and presentation god.  Going from the only mobile dev to having someone to bounce ideas off of and discuss the fine points of development (JSON in Android, for example) will be a much less frustrating endeavor.


Monday, April 7, 2014

So we presented at the Undergraduate Research Symposium at RPI this week and we were well received!  This weekend, Phil and Josh got a significant amount of work done on the backend and AJAX side of things.  We added a separate table to track submission votes and added a decent amount of API functionality.  We recently moved the actual youtube searching to the client end with verification on the backend.  It looks like we can have something that works with at least basic functionality by the end of the Summer!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Almost to Spring Break, Mobile Update

On the mobile end, I've made progress to the point where I am missing only the main interface, which will be composed of fragments, thanks to the navigation drawer layout.  Once that's finished, all that is left as far as main functionality go is adapting the app to the Youtube API (we can already share from youtube to the app) and implementing the JSON interface to talk to Josh's backend API.

Spring break will be time to work on the project for me, and possibly start an iOS version, too!  If not, then certainly at some point.

I have already learned so much about android and once I get fragments down, I may even change the layout from nav-drawer to a slideview layout, like snapchat has implemented for example.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

First updates...

As a whole, our team of developers has spent the last few weeks studying the skills that we will need to complete this project.  We have basic back end functionality for user management and media submission with PHP and MySQL.  We have a group of developers working on drawing up the front.  We have formed another repository for  the Android front end of the project.  This repository can be found here.  Back end support for the Android application has yet to be completed, but it is soon to come.  We were able to successfully implement Youtube searching but it requires the Zend library to be in the PHP include path.  This looks to be a promising project and we look forward to applying to be featured in Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Friday, February 21, 2014