Flight Card is available

When we saw Tyler‘s post, Redesigning the boarding pass something strange happened in our minds, but to sum it up let’s quote Steve Jobs:

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.”

Tyler created something beautiful, usable and enjoyable for the user, but there was a problem: current boarding passes are printed with thermal printers which means it has its limitations. Also, airline companies are a massive business, so the more they can save the better.

Flight Card was born.

We thought that we could follow Tyler’s idea and totally redesign the boarding pass, but optimized for the iPhone. On this device we don’t have ink or paper constrains and it can be dynamically changed to display the proper and updated information only when needed. After a few months of sketches and mockups Flight Card was born. This application is about user experience and simplicity, and we think there isn’t anything similar on the App Store right now.

Price

We are using the great service provided by Flightstats to be able to track flights all around the world. Of course a high quality service has a cost for us, which means an increased price of the application.

Thank you

We had fun doing this project, and we already have much more ideas to improve Flight Card. Thanks to all our beta testers and your great support! Check our product page and download!

 

 

Big changes on Squire 0.4

With the Squire version 0.3, we started from zero regarding the base code. We’re still in alpha, but it was a necessary thing if we wanted to prepare it for future updates and the functionality we’re going to add. A lot of new code, a lot of new processes, a new recognition system, a new database… we knew it was going to take a while, and that’s the primary reason for taking so long to send you an update from the 0.21 release. Of course a lot of new stuff means a lot of bugs and things to be fixed. Sometimes you have to take a step backward to make two steps forward. A mandatory toll.

So, changes?

  • The video player performance has been –dramatically– improved. We’re really hoping this fixes the majority of the problems you have been having.
  • We’ve added rewind/forward functionality using Apple remote or keyboard. Still needs work, but it’s a beginning.
  • Improved the performance of Home module.
  • Some graphical adjustments in certain resolutions.
  • Emotional filters. We talked about them here. To use them, in the cover flow view just press down arrow on a keyboard or volume down on your Apple remote.
  • A lot of small bug fixes our beloved testers have been reporting. Thank you, guys!.

The recognition problems

We’re already working on version 0.5. Now it’s time to work on the recognition algorithms and make them work –almost– perfect. We’d really love if you could send us and email with the following information.

Note: before send us reports, please read here and optionally here. To make this task easier for you, if you press F, Squire will display the IMDB code and the entire file name.

If the movie was recognized wrong:

  • File name, extension, file size and duration. Example: The Karate Kid (2010).avi, 4.5GB, 90 minutes. We’d appreciate the IMDB code too.
  • IMDB code of the wrongly recognized movie.

If the movie is not showing up on Squire:

  • File name, extension, file size and duration. Example: The Karate Kid (2010).avi, 4.5GB, 90 minutes. Again, we’d appreciate the IMDB code too.

For TV Shows:

Info needed here is the same as for movies, with the exception of the IMDB code.

Thank you

It’s been some awesome months seeing Squire getting better and stronger. The community is getting bigger and bigger and sincerely we couldn’t be happier. Thanks for giving us your support, please have a bit more of patience, we’re just three people trying to do it the best we can, but as soon as we go public we’’ll try to find a way to push Squire to another level.

 

An emotional movie filtering


One of the features many users have requested is a way to filter movies. This is particularly great when you have a big library. We wanted to make it ala Squire-way, so that implies simplicity and effortless use. We have in the works some interesting things to solve this problem, and one of them is a more human filtering solution.

Squire database has more than twenty categories for movies and we have the power to use all this data to create interesting stuff. As humans, we’re moved by emotions, so giving you a long list of categories don’t seem to be a good approach. And you know, users don’t read.

When you are going to watch a movie, you have no idea about what you want to see. Or if you do, it’s highly conditioned by your current mood and situation. For instance, if you are with your family you might want to see something funny, and most importantly, for all audiences. If you’re with friends, get some laughs sounds like a good idea. Maybe it’s a girls night? definitively a love history. Or imagine it’s a rainy saturday and your lights are off, perfect atmosphere for a scary movie.

Having in mind this variables, we thought we could make the filtering system significantly transparent for the user, fun and intuitive. In resume, more human.

We came up with around eight to ten emotional filters but we’re keeping them as a surprise. Currently we’re testing an internal build with this functionality and doing some usability tests.

We’re planning to add this in the next alpha version 0.4, we can’t promise it but we’ll do our best.

 

Using IMDB codes with Squire

Often we get a lot of emails asking How I should name my files in order to be well recognized by Squire? How I should prepare my library ? What I have to do?. Answer is simple: nothing.

Like we said on many times, Squire’s file recognition is an automated system, with zero configuration. The algorithms we’re developing let us detect the movie without forcing the user to follow very hard rules or naming conventions. We know these systems are far from perfect, and we have a lot of work ahead. The intelligence inside of an algorithm is limited with a few exceptions like R2D2, C3PO, Kitt or Robocop (well, this one is half man so it doesn’t count).

But truth is we wanted to give our users an alternative way to make sure the movies or tv show will get well recognized always, using IMDB codes. Each movie, tv show and even individual episodes have one, and it can be seen at the end of the URL as the image below illustrates.

  • Movies: add the IMDB code and name it like you wish (The Karate Kid tt1155076.avi).
  • TV Shows: you can either add the IMDB code for the show (house 4×06 tt0412142.avi) or for an individual episode (house 4×06 tt1123416.avi). Have in mind this is part is not available on the current build.

That simple ;) .

 

Understanding Squire’s file recognition

We don’t aim to give you some programming lessons or basic mathematics. We’ll try to not bore you with complex diagrams and how our algorithms works, we will postpone it for the day when Coca-cola share his secret recipe or Google distribute its famous PageRank ;-) .

File recognition

Squire recognizer (our algorithm system) analyzes all the files in your internal, external and shared disks. Using Squire Database it filters, recognizes and separates movies from the rest of video files. Everything is done without following a naming pattern or putting your files on certain places. You just need to sit and watch.

What Can I do to help Squire?

Of course in the entire world no one is perfect. Just like your mother or wife are happy when you lower the toilet seat, Squire will also thank you with better results if you follow a coherent way to name your files:

Keep it clean. Squire loves your file names to be concise and direct. It’s better to have a file named like Inception.mkv than Inception Subt [AC3 - DTS] (2010) by BobEsponja.mkv, although it will be probably recognized anyway.

File extension. Squire recognizes and plays the following files extensions: MOV, MKV, AVI, MP4, MPG, M4V.

On TV Shows, name along with season and episode number. Following our previous point, be concise with the name: Lost 1×05.mkv. Just in case you don’t have the entire name, season and episode number in your file name we are also supporting folder naming. Read more here

We’re getting better.

This is an amazingly complex and ambitious project, and believe us when we say we’re putting all our efforts and passion on it. We have a lot of stuff to improve and implement but slowly, with your help, we will make Squire much better than it is now.

 

Introducing: Squire

First of all, we would like to thank all of you all who took the time to send us your feedback, suggestions and good vibes. We’d also like to thank our wonderful group of alpha testers for spending their valuable time helping us.

As you may have noticed, we’re just a few people doing all the work: Jonatan Castro (the designer) and Fernando García Torcelly (the developer). We’re grateful to have Fernando García Ramos on board as well, helping us build our database and web application. We’re working hard to create something different: a simple application that provides an engaging experience; one that anyone can use and enjoy. Yes yes, your grandma too! Trust us when we say: this is different.

What’s Squire?

Squire is an elegant, easy, simple yet powerful way to consume media. It’s developed in Cocoa—Apple’s language.
On its first launch it will scan your internal and external hard drives, as well as any shared drives in your local network, finding any media files. With the help of our proprietary database, Squire DB, it will gather all the metadata it needs to automatically recognize and sort your media in a stunning interface.

I’m sure you’re eager to see how it looks or how it works, so feel free to take a look at our screenshots and videos.

How I can get my hands on it?

This is alpha software, which means it is not yet ready for public use. We send a batches of invites everyday so, if you’re interested, please sign up at Squire’s website and we will make sure to get you on the list. Please be aware that invitations are not sent instantly, so you’ll probably need to wait a few days—sorry.

When will it go public?

We can’t commit to a date yet. As we’ve said before, we’re just a small startup with (very!) limited resources so any unexpected problems can potentially significantly change any schedule. However, we would really like to launch a public alpha (or beta) before Summer.

How much will I have to pay for it?

0$, 0€ (zero). No, it’s not a typo. Our application will be free to download and use. We could consider some premium services for paid users but it’s way too soon to talk about that.

On a side note, we wanted to use all the great technologies available on Apple’s newest Mac OS X so, at least for now, you’ll need Snow Leopard (10.6+). Also in the subject of requirements, you’ll need a 64-bit processor (Intel Core 2 Duo or higher) but we’ll try to make a 32-bit version and assess it’s performance and usability at a later stage.

One more thing…

So, do you want to know what’s coming on the next alpha version 0.3? From a UI standpoint, not a big change, but this is amazing improvement: we’re happy to announce the introduction of our own database, SquireDB. After more than six months in the works we now have a dedicated server, running an incredible powerful MySQL database and web application. This flexibility makes the possibilities truly limitless.

Of course this could’ve not been possible without the amazing work of our database architect: F.G. Ramos. He tapped into his many years of experience in database design and architecture to create something truly remarkable, efficient and scalable.

For now, only the “Movies” module is SquireDB-enabled and, as you can imagine, it’s all still at a very early stage. We’d really appreciate your help in helping us improve its search effectiveness. To do so, please send us the following information:

  1. Exact file name: The Italian Job.avi.
  2. File size: 4.5GB.
  3. IMDB code of the movie. Learn more about this.
  4. Was your movie successfully recognized? If not, please give us the IMDB code of the (badly) recognized movie.



Also, don’t forget to send us your crash reports. You can do so by copying & pasting the report text onto an RTF file (you can use TextEdit, for example). We will continue our hard work on SquireDB so that we can get the “TV Shows” module working with it as well as soon as possible. Folks… this is just the beginning.


With love,
The Sylion Team.