Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Towards the end of this article I'll tie it into sailing in a very round about way...but well, its really not a sailing related post.  What do you expect?!  Luckness has been tied to the dock for 4 months now.  I'll get around to sailing again at some point here...

Seattle in the winter is coldish and rainy.  Lots of grey skies.  This makes for an ideal environment for staying inside and being creative once you get tired of reading books one after the other.  If you're a retired software developer with lots of time on your hands, with access to a speedy internet connection, and you have access to a high quality free development environment for the laptop you have (my MacBook Pro) and happen to have an idea for an application...you might as well do some programming!  That's what I've been doing for the last little while.

I've been playing around with computers and programming since I was in high school, which was a long time ago.  I spend 20 years as a professional software developer.  In all that time, I have never had an application that I wrote be published.  Many apps that I contributed to were published of course, which was useful as that was how my salary was paid all those years.  But I could never point at a program and say: "Look, I made that!"  Well now I can.  Look!  I created an application!  Its called LuckNews and was just published on the Apple App Store!  Check it out!

The little story behind the app is that...  I upgraded my Mac to Mountain Lion (10.8) a few months ago and found that the blogs that I had been reading through the Mail program were no longer working.  Apple had dropped support for RSS feeds from Mail and Safari in Mountain Lion.  I went to the App Store to look for an app to read the blogs and bought one and tried it out.  I didn't like it, so bought a second.  I didn't like that one, so I bought a third.  I didn't like that one either.  I didn't try them all and there may be a kick-ass amazing blog reader on the App Store that would have done just what I wanted...but hey, I'm a software developer with time on my hands so I decided to write my own.

I hadn't programmed since I retired from Alias/Autodesk before leaving on my first cruise.  I had forgotten how much fun programming can be, it can be an incredibly addictive and engaging activity - especially when you get to work on what you want to, not what someone else wants you to work on.  I've had a lot of fun creating this app.

Version 1.0 is ready for consumption.  I have a list of things I'll be adding to it over the next little while, but what's there is usable I think.

The app only works on Mac's and only on those mac's running version 10.8 (Mountain Lion) or higher.  (There is nothing higher as I write this, but at some point there will be...)  Its cheap!  Its simple.  It comes without documentation of any kind and no built in help.  If you have a number of RSS or Atom news feeds that you read, I sure hope you can figure out how to get the app to read them.

As an added bonus, if you recently upgraded to Mountain Lion and had been reading RSS news feeds in Mail and are annoyed that you can no longer do that, you may be wondering what happened to all those news subscriptions?  As long as you didn't do a clean install of the OS, they are still around and LuckNews can get them back for you.  Use the 'Import Subscriptions..." menu entry and follow what I hope is an easy set of steps to get them back.

And the sailor connection I promised is...a little lame.  LuckNews allows you to control how long you retain blog articles, including keeping them around forever.  I have a few blogs I follow that I've switched into this mode, for the rest I let their articles expire naturally.  LuckNews also allows you to read the downloaded articles when you have no internet connection.  So if you're a sailor, at sea or at anchor without an internet connection and want to be able to read old blog articles, you can use LuckNews to do that.  I'll be adding a few features to make it more sailor friendly in the future, unless I decide to get out and start sailing again in which case my software development may have run out...

Enjoy!  Or ignore, as the case may be.

Later eh.

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