NiceFeed: An update, and taking a break

Due to current widespread disruption of internet services in the Philippines, I am taking a short break from NiceFeed through the end of the month, and plan to use the time to… stop staring at my computer screen all the time. But I’ll try to address somewhat urgent issues should they arise. 

Just today, a user wrote me about a crash in Android 6.0. I found the cause to be a few image resources that were mistakenly not accessible to API level 23 and below. Sometimes you get caught up in getting things right in all the obvious places, while big mistakes happen where you didn’t expect. After much fighting against my internet connection, I managed to roll out a quick update. It should be out on Google Play in a few days.

Also, the app has just been added to the IzzyOnDroid repo for the benefit of users outside the “walled garden”—as it has been described—of the Play Store (thanks for picking it up, IzzyOnDroid!). I appreciate the handful of users who have been trying out my app and taking the time to let me know of any issues or suggestions.

In the beginning was the Hello World

I have a friend who is a foreign policy expert who started out his career in theater. He’s always saying, “Everything I know about foreign policy I learned in the theater.” Someday I want to be able to say everything I know about software development I learned from music. Even at this stage the intersections are pretty obvious: logic, creativity, architecture, scalability, the balancing act between making end users work as little as possible and implementing complex features (either because they are needed, or… just because you can), etc., etc.

I enjoy personal, stream-of-consciousness writing but I want to keep this blog strictly about my coding projects. So this is the only bit of a background I will give for now: I picked up Android development early this year (around the time coronavirus started becoming a thing) and was instantly hooked! My weapon of choice is Kotlin. I’m not quite new to programming in general; I’ve had many false starts since I was a wee lad and my education in music included a considerable technological component (such as CSound and especially the visual programming environment Max/MSP), though I quickly became bored because I found myself not that interested in the musical results. Instead I devoted myself to large orchestral pieces—where I learned everything I know about managing a complex, jumbled mess of a project from start to finish and shipping it (literally, shipping like 50 or so instrumental parts to an orchestra), hoping you didn’t make one mistake in one part that could derail the whole thing. Kind of like programming, except with software you’re allowed to constantly release updates.

Anyway. Last week I released my latest app NiceFeed for open testing on the Google Play Store. NiceFeed is an RSS feed aggregator and news reader. I know RSS is an old, “undead” technology and there are already many similar apps out there, but I haven’t been too interested in many of the similar top-downloaded ones on offer. This is not intended for power users, we already have Feedly, etc. for that, but for people like me who want something nice to look at and won’t make them work too hard. I’ve had a lot of fun, as well as many frustrations, working on this app over the summer months and learning as I go. If anybody at all comes across this blog, I would love it if you could give the app a try (Android only for now… sorry!) and let me know what you think, maybe even open up an issue on my GitHub

Future posts here will be about continued development of NiceFeed, trying to solve issues I come across, etc, as well as other Android projects as I start them. Everybody says to blog as you learn, so I’m taking the bait. In the future I may also write about some other languages and tech stacks I’m interested in. I have my eyes on Flutter, as well as Python and Django. I also dabble intermittently in Arduino. Until then… banzai!