Monday, August 25, 2014

Beta 22, and UFOs

Solitaire Till Dawn BETA 22 is now available from our Beta Program page.

What's New
Little stuff, mostly. Bug IDs 82 and 92, the last bugs in the list still labeled as "unfixed", have been fixed! These will solve some issues with scrolling in the game lists, and some failures to properly record scores for some games won with the early-win option. In addition we have made a half-dozen or so other little improvements, not worth listing here. You can read about them in the Read Me for b22, if you wish.

Crashers and UFOs
We still have at least one crashing bug that I never listed in the public bug list, but that I have been working on for some time. I know, from your crash reports (thank you for those!) that it is a real bug; but after weeks of effort I am still unable to make it happen on my own machines where I could study it. Although a few of you have sent your "formulas" for making the crash happen on your machines, none of them had any effect for me.

This crash is the last serious bug in Solitaire Till Dawn, at least that I know about right now. I would hate to ship the app without fixing it, but I am not willing to delay forever, either. I currently intend to give it another couple of weeks, maybe a month; if I haven't made any progress by then, I will probably go ahead and publish. While the bug has affected more than one of you, others have reported months of trouble-free operation, so I think (I hope!) that it is at least a rare event. If I'm wrong, I'll hear about it within a week of shipping it, I'm sure. :-/

So much for crashers. What (I hear you ask) are UFOs? That's my little shorthand name for a certain class of bug report. "UFO" stands for "Unidentified Flying Object", and some people think that some unidentified flying things are alien spaceships; but I don't think that's so. Many such sightings (not all) have been shown to be meteors, balloons, flying toys, ordinary airplanes seen from unusual angles, and so on. Of course I can't prove that there aren't any flying saucers flitting around up there, but I haven't seen enough evidence yet to convince me that they're really there.

And the same with certain bug reports: every so often I get one that sounds like a sober, correct report of a genuine problem; and yet I have reason to think it's mistaken and not really a bug. For example, if someone tells me that there's no Jack of Diamonds in a game they're playing, they're almost certainly wrong, and just haven't realized that there's a legitimate place where that Jack might be hidden. Why am I sure they're wrong? Because by now, thousands of games of solitaire have been played with Solitaire Till Dawn, and there has never been one genuine case of a missing card. That doesn't prove that I don't have some weird, rarely-occurring bug, but it's seriously unlikely.

When I get such a report, I pay attention; but I don't immediately start looking for a solution to the problem, because there likely isn't any problem. It would be a waste of my time (and yours, while you wait for me to finish this thing up and ship it). But I do make a note of the report, and keep my eyes peeled for any more reports of similar effects—just in case I'm wrong and the reporter was right.

In the meantime, the report gets classified as "I'm sure you saw something interesting, but I'm not sure you saw what you think you saw." In other words, a sort of UFO report. I now have a small collection of these for the Solitaire Till Dawn betas. If you are one of the people who sent me a report and never saw me mention it again, please don't think I'm ignoring you! I've kept all the reports you've all sent me. But I have to decide where my time is best spent, and if your report looks like a UFO to me, I'm taking a bet that it's not worth my time to investigate it deeply.

So, when...?
When will you be able to buy a real copy? I still don't know. If I can get a handle on the crasher bug in the next couple of weeks, you can bet I will be trying to squash that one before we ship. If not, it will still take me a while to clean up from the beta testing and get all the legal stuff ready; and then it will likely take Apple anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to approve Solitaire Till Dawn for the App Store after I submit it.

But I certainly hope and intend to have it available well before Christmas.

Watch this space!


  1. Thanks Rick. I’ve been playing bug-free for at least two versions. Can’t wait to buy a copy.