The Crimea Quiz Game App

Posted by steve | Apple Software and Hardware,Education,Mobile Phones | Friday 11 April 2014 8:04 pm

Apple just sent me notification that the newest iOS App I’ve written “Crimea Quiz Game” has been approved and is ready for sale. From my past experience I think this means the App will begin to show up for sale in the Australia App Store at midnight tonight and then work its way across the global App Stores accordingly.

This is very exciting for me. Effort to get to this point has been really different than for other Apps I’ve published. But let me share some excitement by describing what this App does before I spend more time describing the interesting experience of getting this App approved.

“Crimea Quiz Game” is an iOS game that you play in your living room at home with iPhones, iPads and an Apple TV. The key feature is that this is a quiz you play using the Apple TV to present the questions and you use your hand held iPhones and iPads to vote on the correct answer. The game uses many of Apple’s new iOS 7 capabilities including the Multi-Peer Connectivity framework to automatically connect between all the devices, Sprite Kit for the graphics and text presentation, and AirPlay to send output to the TV screen.

When we play-tested this it generated a lot of excitement and was quite a bit of fun. Here is how a typical Apple TV display looks while playing the game.

Crimea Quiz Game Apple TV Display

Crimea Quiz Game Apple TV Display

On your networked iPhone are buttons matching the multiple-choice answers.

iPhone Answer Buttons

iPhone Answer Buttons

If you think you know the answer tap the matching button before one of the other players. The only thing is, see that timer up on the Apple TV display?…

Countdown Timer

Countdown Timer

If no one answers before the timer runs out (and it gets red as you get close), then no one scores.
The game then shows the correct answer, and the name of whomever got it right, on the Apple TV display for a few seconds and then the next question is presented. This cycle is repeated until the game ends and someone has the highest number of correct answers.

Game Over

Game Over

The game itself is about the current crisis in Crimea. I figure most folks, me included, don’t know much about the Ukraine and Crimea or even where the heck it is. So as a quiz topic this should be both interesting and educational. The game has 28 questions built-in. When the game is launched you can select how many questions are chosen randomly for a game round.

I also had some fun designing a setup screen with custom controls that is used by one player before the game begins. Here’s that setup display running on the iPhone.

Setup Options

Setup Options

The open source program Gimp was used to create the custom graphic elements and then I coded up some custom Sprite Kit controls for the buttons, switches and sliders.

Now, a little bit about the process to get to this point. The game was written and submitted to Apple for review on March 24th. Then on April 2nd the App was rejected with a reason that I’ve never encountered before “Metadata Rejected”. Apple provided details about the rejection and it turns out they didn’t find some problem with the App. Rather, they asked me if I would create a video showing how to work it. This was something new but then I figure, maybe the written text description I had given was not enough. After all, this app uses the Apple TV in a manner that I have not seen much in other App Store games. So setup might be confusing. And I figured if Apple said they needed a video showing how to setup the game hardware, then anyone would. So I created a video using the iOS simulator, and Quicktime and iMovie for editing and submitted that to Apple the very next day. In the mean time I was busy enhancing by adding features and cosmetic improvements so I decided to create a whole new version and resubmit.

Apple rejected it again on April 3rd. This time they wanted me to make the video again but using real Apple hardware and not showing it running on the simulator. Okay. That was a little more effort. I had to dig out our old Cannon video camera and threw together a few short clips showing the game being played on some iOS devices we have at home. I also did some editing in iMovie to see if I could make up for the lousy video skills. The app was resubmitted with a link to the first and second video. A new binary was readied on April 6th.

Then I didn’t hear anything for a few days. This morning (April 11) at 3:05 AM I received a text message that the game was in review! My first thought was, wow that’s early. Apple must have a pretty decent size staff running day and night for App reviews. I figured that maybe in an hour or two I’d get notice that the App was approved. The previous App I created took only 2 hours to approve once they began the review. But, this one is a lot more complicated because it has networking and uses the Apple TV. Around 1:00 PM I received a message from Apple saying that they needed more time to test it. Now I was secretly hoping this meant that maybe Apple found the App pretty interesting and was playing around with it. Just a fantasy, I know. Around 5:00 PM this evening I received a message saying the App was approved for sale in the App store. That was quite the journey. But like I said, I’m real excited. I think this App is a pretty neat idea, it’s fun to play, and it’s both timely and educational.

Here’s honestly hoping this game is a success. It’s just like those trivia games you see in some bars except this one you play at home with your friends.

The App is in the App Store at this link. I have also created a support web site which also shows off what it does and provides links to the setup and playing videos that were created for Apple during the review process.

So go check it out. I’m quite proud of it and also have a lot of plans for where I will take this idea in the future.


Updated Xcode 5 Unit Test Tutorial

Posted by steve | Apple Software and Hardware,Education,Mobile Phones | Wednesday 5 March 2014 11:43 am

This morning I received a compliment via email from someone I’ve never met before about my Xcode Unit Test tutorial. I was instantly motivated to read through it again and check it for typos. So, after about an hour’s worth of careful reading and edits I have updated the tutorial this morning.

If you have an interest in learning how to write good Unit Tests for iOS and Mac application development, check it out. The tutorial can be found here.

And thanks again to everyone that provides feedback on my tutorials. I’m especially curious about how folks stumble upon or find them since I make no special effort to market the material.


An analysis of “The Density of Smart People”

Posted by steve | Education | Sunday 30 May 2010 8:56 am

Over in The Atlantic, this article appears that compares cities by density of degreed people.  I was delighted to find the included link to the actual spreadsheet data used to create the prominent graphic associated with the report.  After reading it I wanted to perform my own analysis.

When reading the article my immediate reaction was “Of course that is the outcome, but it does not demonstrate anything useful.”  Which is why I was glad to find the raw data.  My reasoning goes like this:

  • The highest “rated” cities in the report also appear to be the cities having overall highest population density.
  • I would expect that in cities having a high density of population to have a high density of degreed people.
  • This would only be useful if I believed that the distribution of educated people is linear.

A much more interesting analysis, in my opinion, would contrast the density of the city to the density of the educated in that city.  So I did my own analysis using the same input data, assuming that would be a valid starting point.

Here is the graph of my own analysis.   Lower is better.

Comparing Density of City to Density of Degrees

What the analysis tells me is that a city like Seattle is a good place to be if you want to meet more educated people per population density. And Detroit ranks at the bottom.


More VEX competition pics

Posted by steve | Education | Saturday 4 April 2009 9:05 am

We’re about 2 hours into the competition event. I took some snap shots with my iPhone.

I’m really too far away for much detail. Hopefully I’ll be able to post some HD video clips later.

NASA has a live webcast you can watch. Just Google for “VEX Omaha competition webcast”.

Just a follow-up note. I’m proud to say that Buffett Magnet Middle School, along with their team alliance partner, placed first place in the competition in the Middle School category. This parent is proud because Nicholas is Team Captain of Buffett’s winning team.

From here the team goes on to compete in the VEX World Championship in Dallas, Texas in May. We’ve already got our rooms booked. When they compete in the World Championship they will be up against High School students. Being as this is the first year for the Buffett team, that should prove to be very exciting.


Create Foundation VEX robotics competition

Posted by steve | Education | Saturday 4 April 2009 6:50 am

Getting into the Omaha Civic Auditorium early this morning. First meet is @ 8:00.

Here’s a photo while things are being setup for the day.


VEX Robotics Championship of the Americas

Posted by steve | Education | Friday 3 April 2009 9:25 pm

This weekend the VEX Robotics Championship of the Americas is being held right here in my home town of Omaha.

It’s a pretty big deal, with High School and Junior High School kids from all over the United States and even some from other countries competing in robotics. It’s a lot of fun to watch. My step-son Nicholas is captain of the robotics team from his Junior High School (Buffet Magnet Middle School) and they are participating in this event. At the end of the day Friday they are 4-and-1, having won every match but the last one where they had developed a stripped motor and lost steering capability. The boys (and some girls) are having fun.

NASA is one of the sponsors of this event and even has a live webcast, as well as broadcasting on NASA TV.

I hope to publish some photographs and maybe even some video clips from the event.