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HomeRoutines 2.0.2 Release – Available now

Our latest update,  HomeRoutines 2.0.2 is available now. Thanks to everyone who has sent us feedback and reports of the app misbehaving – it helps us get to the bottom of these pesky bugs.

Added Syncing for users of old iPod Touches and iPhones running  iOS 3.1

When we released syncing in HomeRoutines 2.0, we only made that feature available to people whose devices were running iOS 4 or later. iOS 4 is a free upgrade for all devices, except for the iPod (1st Generation) and the original iPhone.

While we were testing the 2.0 update,  we felt that on these older devices, syncing was too slow. We were also concerned  that the app could not automatically sync when you exited, only when the app opened and when it was running.

However, we have received quite a few messages from people who want syncing to work on their older devices, so we have changed our mind and enabled syncing for these devices in HomeRoutines 2.02.

iPad users aren’t affected by this change, because HomeRoutines for iPad 2.0 and later requires the free the iOS 4.2 update. If you’re still running iOS 3.2 on your iPad 1, please do upgrade. iOS 4 fixes many bugs, and runs great on the iPad 1.

Fixed Bug: Saving Problems on 2nd Gen iPod Touch, and iPhone 3G

We’ve discovered a bug which specifically affects users with the iPod touch (2nd generation) and the iPhone 3G, who have registered for My.HomeRoutines. This bug can prevent recent changes being saved if you exit the app by pressing your device’s home button. We’ve fixed this bug in HomeRoutines 2.0.2.

In the meantime, press the power/lock button at the top of your iPod touch (2nd generation) or iPhone 3G when you’re done making changes in HomeRoutines, and your changes should be saved correctly.

We’d like to apologize to anyone affected by this bug.

Other Improvements

Version 2.0.2 also makes syncing faster, makes star reset when using syncing more reliable, and fixes a bunch of other bugs.

If you do have any problems with the app, please contact us at support@homeroutines.com. We’re happy to help.

Known Issue: errors caused by moving rooms between zones

Update: we’ve now resolved this problem on the server — you can move and edit your rooms without any problems now. If you’ve had some problems with this in the last couple of days, and the app doesn’t seem to be syncing now, then drop us a line at support@homeroutines.com, and we’ll get you going again.

We have become aware of a bug that occurs when you move rooms between zones in the app. Because of an error in the way that the syncing works, you can end up with unexpectedly duplicated or deleted rooms, and this can also cause HomeRoutines to crash.

We apologize for this bug, and recommend that you avoid moving rooms between zones for the time being.  We are working on the code on the syncing website to fix the bug, today, and will keep you posted.

Thanks to everyone who reports bugs to us – it helps us track them down and fix them as quickly as possible.

Squashing ALL the bugs (a small update)

We have identified some bugs in the HomeRoutines 2.0 update, and on the My.HomeRoutines website (sigh!), which we have fixed now.  We have submitted another update to Apple this morning.  In the meantime, if you haven’t updated your app yet, you might want to wait until the next update appears, or just be aware of the issues described here:

  • My.HomeRoutines website
    This morning we’ve updated the software on the My.HomeRoutines website. If you were having trouble editing data online when you first registered, try again.
  • HomeRoutines app
    If you’ve registered for My.HomeRoutines, and then add several lists in one go using the app, it can cause the app to crash. This sucks.  We have identified and fixed this bug and are submitting an update to Apple today, which will hopefully go through quickly. What’s more, a few people won’t be able to register for My.HomeRoutines at all. If you’re one of these people, hang tight, and the update should fix the problem within a few days.
  • iPad version of HomeRoutines only
    There is a bug in how HomeRoutines detects the version of iOS that your iPad is running, and this is causing the My.Homeroutines button to not appear on some devices. If you’ve updated HomeRoutines on your iPad and you can’t see the My.HomeRoutines button, please update to the latest version of iOS.  (Plug your iPad into iTunes and click Check for Updates)  Alternatively, wait until our next update is approved, as this will fix it.

As always, if you have any further questions or issues, please email us on support@homeroutines.com

Introducing HomeRoutines 2.0 – with FREE Sync and online editing

If you wondered why we’ve been a bit quiet, it’s because we’ve been working very hard to get this awesome update ready for you!

Thank you so much to our beta testers who provided some excellent feedback and asked sensible questions – we couldn’t have done it without you!

FREE Multi-Device Sync

You can now keep all the devices that are running HomeRoutines in sync with our shiny new sync service.

This shares and syncs all your lists and the completion of tasks between the devices, so whether you’ve got your iPhone or iPod touch in your pocket, or you’re working with the family on your Saturday chores on the iPad,  they will all say the same thing.

Sync ALL the things. I can't draw stars.This is a poorly photoshopped version of one by the glorious Allie of Hyperbole and a Half from her story  This is Why I’ll Never Be an Adult. It’s funny because it’s true)

How to join up

To register for this free service, just scroll down the home screen and tap My.HomeRoutines.

Do this on your main device, if you have more than one; you want the syncing data to be based on your “best” version of HomeRoutines, where you’ve got it set up just so.

You will need to register, then confirm your email address.

How does the Syncing Work?

Once you’ve created an account, and confirmed your email address, you will be able to sign in to that account with any other devices you wish to sync with.

The syncing works by sending a copy of your data to our web server, where it is kept safe and private.  (You can read our privacy policy, also under My.HomeRoutines on your app)

HomeRoutines will sync only when it is the foreground app (ie, the one you are looking at right now, not when the phone is locked or sleeping, or you’re using another app. While it is the foreground app, it will sync every minute, and also when you leave the app. Syncing sends a very small amount of data, detailing any changes to your lists or your completed tasks.

Although the data is copied and synced to the web server, it is still on your device, so if you’re out and about you don’t need internet or wifi access to view your lists.  (I’ve suffered through trying to get slow internet access in a supermarket to view my online shopping list enough times that I’m not inflicting that on you!)

But Wait There’s More! My.HomeRoutines.Com

Since we were getting all the data going to the web in order to make syncing work, we thought “What the heck” and decided to make it editable online as well. This is a special FREE service that is only available to users of the HomeRoutines app.

When you register for My.HomeRoutines on your device, you can use the same user name and password at http://my.homeroutines.com.  Online, you can edit your routines, to do lists and zone tasks.

You can also back up and restore your HomeRoutines data on the site.

The web version does not yet have all of the features of the app, so you can’t yet:

  • Change routine or zone schedules.
  • Edit your daily messages (although they are displayed).
  • View your accomplishments.
  • Use the timer
  • Also, scheduled routine and zone reset only happens when you run the app.

So, yeah.   We’re really proud of this update, and hope you enjoy it!

As always, if you have any problems or questions, send us an email at support@homeroutines.com

HomeRoutines 1.8.3 Released

Last week we received a report via email of a problem where a customer had lost some changes they made in HomeRoutines. We also saw an recent app store review where someone had seen a similar issue. Here at Wunderbear we take bugs, particularly anything which can cause data loss, very, very seriously. It breaks our geeky little hearts to see someone report a problem like this! So we sat down with a vat of tea to try and sort things out.

HomeRoutines takes great care when saving data, even keeping the previous version of your data around in the case of problems.  But a couple of versions of HomeRoutines ago we tweaked the saving process, where your changes are written to the flash memory, so that we didn’t save so often. This helps with battery life, and performance (especially on older devices). But we went too far. Things still worked perfectly as long as everything went as expected, but on mobile devices strange stuff can happen. Batteries run flat unexpectedly, the OS can terminate apps in odd states, and sometimes you just hit a weird bug. When these unexpected things happened, it could cause changes not to be persisted. We think the problem is very rare, but any amount of data loss is not OK.

So we’ve just released version 1.8.3 of HomeRoutines. It improves the saving system so that changes should never be lost, even if the worst happens.

Having said all that, it’s pretty easy to lose your data for any iPhone app by accidentally unchecking the app in the iTunes, and the iTunes backup doesn’t often help, because it’s replaced at every sync. This is why we added the local backup feature back in version 1.5, then made it better in version 1.8 by letting you copy the HomeRoutines data file directly from iTunes. However, manual backup is still a hassle. Stay tuned for some much better solution coming real soon now.

Menu Planning

Do you menu plan? I do, in a sort of ad-hoc way.  I always plan a week’s worth of dinners before I go to the supermarket. Before I write my list, I have a look at what’s left in the fridge, and check out what is going to come in our weekly fruit and vege box, and check the calendar for any upcoming events where I’m supposed to “bring a plate.”   Having a list doesn’t mean that I cook the exact things I thought of when I wrote my list, but it means that I have the general ingredients in stock to make something. I don’t plan dinners for particular days of the week because I don’t like being bossed around, even by my past self. We usually just see what we feel like on the day.

I’m not very high-tech with my list – I have a stack of little index cards that I bought years ago thinking I’d rock me a Hipster PDA, and so I write a list of 7 dinners on a card and stick it on the fridge with a magnet.  Past weeks’ lists are in a stack on top of the fridge, which I review for ideas if I’m feeling uninspired, or whenever they cascade onto the surprised head of whoever’s opened the fridge door

So that isn’t a very sophisticated way of menu planning, but it works for me.

Here are some great posts on Menu Planning from some of my favourite Housework Ninjas:

A few people have mentioned that they use the daily reminders feature of HomeRoutines to put their menu plan for the week in, then they get a reminder of what’s for dinner whenever they look at the app. That is an excellent idea!

Plan, Do, Review, Revise (or, How’s that routine working out for you?)

Before I was a mum-of-three and an app developer, before the kids (or the app) were even a twinkle in anybody’s eye, I used to design and develop computer based training.  We’d take the staff development goals of businesses, and find which ones could be turned into learning objectives, then design training programmes to run on a CD or the internet. As we designed the programmes we continuously improved them – so many rounds of feedback, so many changes and tweaks.

Sometimes a idea I thought was the best thing since sliced bread didn’t work out in the real world, so I changed it to suit.  And that’s life. Eventually, we delivered the project to the customers and they were happy, of course…  but we were straight onto the next project, taking with us what we had learned from the last one. (Maybe we stopped to walk down to Serious Espresso in between.)

The process looked something like this:

That’s what  life and learning is all about – we can’t stay still.  Circumstances change all the time – children arrive, health issues surprise us, jobs change, roles change, and seasons change.  It’s unreasonable to expect that a plan you made a year or even a month ago would still be totally in synch with your current life.

So that’s why I suggest – have a look at your routines.  See what’s working, and what isn’t.  If you’re getting overwhelmed, drop some tasks that don’t matter as much.  Turn off some reminders.

Coincidentally, Maaike from Life With Flylady posted today about adapting Flylady’s zones to suit your house (with HomeRoutines! yay!), and Ana added an excellent comment:

At first I had too many things in my routines and was constantly not getting to some things, which was stressing me out. Then I reminded myself this is for me. I have no one to impress. I removed the tasks I was not ready for yet and it relieved the stress. I have added some back on when I was ready to do them. I will continue to add tasks as time goes on.

No matter whether you choose a housework system to adapt, or cobble one together, or come up with your own ideas – it has to suit your home.  It’s your home, not the home of some self-proclaimed internet expert, or your in-laws, or your grandmother, or that guy on that one infomercial!

Plan: Look around you. See what needs doing…  add it to your routines and zones.

Do: Use those routines, work through the zones, see how you go

Review: Have a look back over what you’ve been doing.  Is it working for you? Are you getting overwhelmed or avoiding your lists because they’re too long?

Revise: Add some things, remove some tasks, switch your zones around!

Enjoy your own system in your own place.  You totally deserve it.

Get Excited and Make Things

Don't keep calm and carry on.

A couple of years ago I had one of those Keep Calm and Carry on posters on my wall.  I felt kind of cool for awhile, because I was ahead of the curve with it down here in the Antipodes (They’re all over the shops here now, along with those fake bus blinds. Welcome to 2008, New Zealand!)  But after awhile its very presence on my wall started to stress me the heck out.

At the time I was just.getting.through.the.days with a major house renovation, a difficult pregnancy, my big girl starting school, and all the other usual dramas of family life, and somewhere along the line the poster’s admonition didn’t help.

Stop telling me what to do, poster!

But here’s the thing I found in the midst of it. If I got going and did something – anything – I’d have more go to do something else. Sitting in my armchair while the room grew dark around me, playing that damn whack-a-mole level of Plants Vs Zombies, was not an effective way of getting started on any endeavours, creative or practical.

HabitHacker has got it right –

If you improve your habits and put routines on autopilot, you’ll have more time for creative endeavors.

The art of habit leads to the habit of art.

Tim and I have found time and time again that if the kitchen is tidied, the living room floor isn’t covered in unfolded laundry and the books that Mr 18-months has ripped off the bookshelf (again) then we find ourselves magically Doing Things. Making jam, collage-ing stuff, sending out Postcrossing postcards, or doing some coding on some side-project of Great Awesomeness. Whereas if we’re sitting in a Living Room of Great Squalor after the kids are in bed, then we’re more likely to dive down the rabbithole of the Internets, or start playing dumb computer games without enjoying it or even really wanting to.

Does this make us tidy up immediately after dinner? Not always! But we’re trying, and it makes a difference.  Baby steps down the hall, and all that.

How to get started, get excited, and do something:

Run a dash

Go for 11 in 2011

9/10 productivity experts on the internet agree, timers are the way to go! Merlin Mann calls this Running a Dash:

My favorite tonic for procrastination—which I have mentioned in passing previously—is what I call a dash, which is simply a short burst of focused activity during which you force yourself to do nothing but work on the procrastinated item for a very short period of time—perhaps as little as just one minute. By breaking a few tiny pebbles off of your perceived monolith, you end up psyching yourself out of your stupor, as well as making much-needed progress on your overdue project. Neat, huh?

He online casino has some excellent techniques on how to do this. I particularly like how he suggests giving yourself two criteria for success: 10 minutes of picking up crap in your garage or one trash bag full, whichever comes first.

Fool yourself to work

At ParentHacks today I found this great list of 10 ways to start working by the developers of Swift To-Do List

In order to be successful, we have to work hard, no matter what. We can’t always be at the mercy of our motivation.

I am lazy. But that’s okay, because I have some tricks for fooling myself into working, every single day. Actually, I’m quite productive thanks to these tricks.

Stop procrastinating and do what you love

Maaike’s latest post on her glorious new blog talks about how to find your passion in life:

What is it that you love to do? Which activities make you forget about time and put you in an enticing flow? That’s what you need to figure out, birdies!

Get those ideas out there, imperfect though they are

Last word goes to the glorious Ze Frank

I run out of ideas every day! Each day I live in mortal fear that I’ve used up the last idea that’ll ever come to me. If you don’t wanna run out of ideas the best thing to do is not to execute them. You can tell yourself that you don’t have the time or resources to do ’em right. Then they stay around in your head like brain crack.

No matter how bad things get, at least you have those good ideas that you’ll get to later.

Some people get addicted to that brain crack. And the longer they wait, the more they convince themselves of how perfectly that idea should be executed. And they imagine it on a beautiful platter with glitter and rose petals. And everyone’s clapping for them.

But the bummer is most ideas kinda suck when you do ’em. And no matter how much you plan, you still have to do something for the first time. And you’re almost guaranteed the first time you do something it’ll blow. But somebody who does something bad three times still has three times the experience of that other person who’s still dreaming of all the applause.

When I get an idea, even a bad one, I try to get it out into the world as fast as possible, ’cause I certainly don’t want to be addicted to brain crack.

Watch the video below for the inspiring speech. (Probably PG)

And then – run a dash and see where you end up!

Baby Steps around the Office, Baby Steps down the Hall

Because I’m a word geek, I’m always fascinated to learn about the origins of phrases.  I refuse to declutter my etymology dictionary, for instance; it’s just so handy when you need to find out whether the use of the word kit for a collection of stuff came up before or after the word kete, which is Maori for bag.  (Kit has been around for ages, by the way, lest I leave you with an unanswered question to plague you. You’re welcome.) Plus, it makes visitors think I’m smart and stuff.

Anyway, I flicked through an old Dave Ramsey book at the library the other day, having heard him mentioned online, and was excited to see he used the phrase “Baby Steps”

Then, Dave mentioned that he had named his”Baby Steps” after a book a character wrote in a movie, What About Bob?. Intrigued, I looked it up.

Being such a spring chicken myself, I hadn’t seen that film, which came out back in 1991, when I wasn’t even born yet was 13.

It’s a comedy film directed by Frank Oz, and starring Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss. Murray plays Bob Wiley, a multiphobic psychiatric patient who follows his successful and (beyond) egotistical psychiatrist Dr. Leo Marvin (played by Dreyfuss) on vacation. (Thanks, Wikipedia!) Hilarity ensues.

In the movie, Dr Leo Marvin introduces Bob to his book Baby Steps… A Guide to living life One step at a time…

Here is the blurb off the back of the fictional book, explaining the idea of Baby Steps:

What are Baby Steps?

It may be a comedy movie, but it’s still very good advice.

Take it all one little baby step at a time, so you don’t get overwhelmed.

(PS: The book cover and blurb are from the interesting blog of Daren Dochterman, who designed the cover for the prop book in the movie. It’s taking all of my concentrating energy to not spend the rest of the afternoon reading it!)