Late last night I came in from the office and gave Karen the iPad. I then sat down with my laptop, and sent her a message, like below. Proud as punch, I was!
"Stop dicking about it's the climax of Miss Marple!"
Seriously, what do you have to do to impress a woman nowadays. Did she not realise it took me two hours of "dicking about" with SSL certificates, Provisioning Profiles, secret keys and the like to get that to work!
Notice in the image above there's an app (row 2 column 2) called NotificationTest with an "unread" count of 2. This is the app I made. The app isn't actually running on the iPad, but if you were to press the View button it would launch and action the message in some way. That's how push notifications work.
If you're not a smart phone user you might not have seen a push notification before. If you do use an iPhone, an Android or Blackberry you're probably familiar with the notices popping up to tell you it's your move on Words With Friends or that somebody mentioned you on Twitter.
They're a useful way of "engaging" your users. I say engaging. Potentially they could be annoying. Look at how many other apps want to push things in my face:
Why would Angelina Ballerina or Talking Tom want to send me push notifications?
There's a potential for spam, as I see it, but, for now, if used properly, they can be really useful. You can of course disable them either completely or by application.
Apple have made improvements in iOS5 to the way notifications work to make them more like Android's -- less in your face and easier to manage. Like them or loathe them they're here to stay.
How Did I Do It?
Here's what you need in order to do what I did and add them to your app:
Patience, guess-work and a few hours to spare (free?).
To get it working I first Googled "titanium urban airship" and quickly found a good tutorial to get me started. What followed was a couple of hours creating and importing SSL certificates, rebuilding and re-installing over and over again (you can only test on the actual device!).
A lot of what followed involved encountering an error, Googling it and applying the suggested solution. But, isn't that what being a developer is about nowadays?
A couple of gotchas that caught me out:
You'll need a new Provisioning Profile tied to the new app's ID, rather than a generic one.
The App "key" and "secret" referred to in the sample code are from Urban Airship. You need to register your app on there and copy the key and secrets over.
How Do They Work?
While I got them to work and the geek in me was satisfied with that. The true geek in me isn't completely satisfied. How do they actually work!? How does it know where my device is? Who is actually sending the notification - Apple or Urban Airship?
Anybody know the exact path the packets take to get to the intended device?
The Perfect Desk Quest - 2013 Update (Part 2) | Blog
Wed, Dec 11th 2013 3:10a Jake Howlett Back in March I updated you all on how my on-going quest for the perfect desk was coming along. Here now is another update. Question: Can you ever have too many monitors or enough "real estate" desktop size? Answer: No! Here's how my desk looks now: From left to right, there's a (newly-added) Dell U2713H (showing OS X), a Dell U2711 and a Samsung SyncMaster 245B (both showing the same Windows 7 PC). All in there are 9,676,800 pixels glaring back at me!! Aside from adding a brand new monito [read] Keywords: desktop
Recovering a Laptop After Forgetting Windows and BIOS Password | Blog
Wed, Dec 4th 2013 3:10a Jake Howlett My sis-in-law loves a bargain (she's from Yorkshire!) and recently rang to ask me (via her sister, my wife) if I'd be able to recover a laptop she'd been offered, before she went ahead and bought it. Apparently the owner of the laptop had forgotten the Windows password and had written the laptop off as worthless, so was willing to sell for next-to-nothing. I said yes, I'd able to do something with it. What I didn't realise was that it might have a BIOS password, which it did! Initially I' [read] Keywords: google
Rockall Design Now in its 11th Year! | Blog
Fri, Nov 1st 2013 4:00a Jake Howlett Rockall Design ltd (the little company I run from the office-slash-garage in my garden) was 10 years old yesterday. It's customary on this day each year that I plot a chart of turnover growth over the years. So, here it is: As you can see it's been a bumper year. Last year I put down what, at the time, I thought was a good year to: Long hours and 'hard' work. But mainly luck! This year is much the same. Although, if I thought I was doing long hours back then I had no idea what was in stor [read] Keywords: domino
Using Font Awesome Icons in Fireworks | Blog
Mon, Oct 14th 2013 4:00a Jake Howlett The font-based web icons from Font Awesome is brilliant. Especially when used in conjunction with Bootstrap. You can quickly and easily add any one of the icons to your HTML buttons (or many other elements for that matter). Like so: Sometimes though, you can't use web fonts. Either you can't rely on them being supported or, for some other reason, you just want to use an image file. That was the case for me recently and I wanted an image file of an exclamation mark. Here's how easy it was usi [read] Keywords:
Bootstrap Advanced Date Picker Plugin | Blog
Fri, Sep 6th 2013 4:00a Jake Howlett For some time now I've been creating date fields in Bootstrap-based websites that look like this: Clicking either in the field or on the button next to it launches a date-picker, like this: In the Notes Form the Date Field is configured in such a way that it accepts dates in the format 12-Dec-2009 (while storing them in normal Notes DateTime format of course). The field properties are like so: It all works well and users like them. Not least because there's no confusion over whether it' [read] Keywords: domino
Quick Tip: Login To Same Site as Two Different Users | Blog
Tue, Aug 20th 2013 12:00p Jake Howlett Here's a tip I discovered kind of by accident in one of those "I wonder if" moments. It came about after discovering a Fiddler tip that lets you trace localhost http traffic. The solution is simple: you simply add a trailing space, so that you surf to http://localhost./ At first I'd assumed that this was some odd quirk in the way browsers handled host names. Turns out it's actually working the way it should. Technically speaking all FQDNs should have a trailing space, in order to make them [read] Keywords:
How To: Virgin Media + BT Infinity = Reliable Internet Connection? | Blog
Mon, Aug 12th 2013 4:03a Jake Howlett The quest for an always-on internet connection is almost at an end! As if to assure me it was worth it, within 24 hours of Virgin Media connecting my secondary (failover) broadband connection the "primary" BT line went down. Again. For the third time in as many months. This time, however, I was prepared and had a backup connection and could carry on working. The BT engineer that came this time was very helpful. Bordering on apologetic for the fact I'd had so many visits of late. So much so he [read] Keywords: admin
Modern Day Communication Reliability | Blog
Thu, Aug 8th 2013 4:09a Jake Howlett Two weeks ago today I mentioned that I'd ordered a Virgin Media cable internet connection as a redundant 2nd connection in case my first goes down. Today the engineer is due to come and connect me up. Yep, a two week wait to get connected. Luckily I'm already on the internet, otherwise there's not a chance I'd ever wait that long. Anyway, I booked a date and the AM time slot for the visit and went about "waiting". Then, yesterday I got the message below: Which sent my overly-paranoid an [read] Keywords: twitter
Error Correction in Lotus Notes Maths | Blog