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The JyotishTools Blog

JyotishTools Android about to get bigger!

The next release of JyotishTools Android will grow from around 430k to around 4.5 MB.  Why?  Well, all of us who do astrology know how important a good atlas is.  Though JyotishTools Android has Google Maps it can only return the longitude and latitude of a location and not the time zone.  Plus you can only use it if you are connected to the Internet. 

I have created an atlas of locations with populations of 100 or more resulting in over 156,000 places and a 7.2 MB file.  The atlas has been created from data provided by Geonames.org.  It also contains the time zone names that are stored on Android devices.  These provide historical DST values too so as long as you enter the date first it can check if DST was in effect of that date in countries that use DST.

I had considered using an online version of Geonames but I know that many users aren't always connected to the Internet so having a good atlas on your phone or tablet is important.  Also this atlas will be included in forthcoming versions of Tropical Skies and especially the Tropical Skies and JyotishTools AE versions apps where Google Maps is not available.  I just though you should be forewarned that the next update will be large and you might want to postpone downloading it until you have a good data connection.

Here is a picture of the new atlas interface:


The line with Asia/Kolkata is the time zone name for India as stored on Android devices.  For places like California it would be America/LosAngeles.  There are over 500 of these on Android devices and actually more than displayed in settings which is usually around 80.  The top button with Asia is for the Continent and the second the country. 

Note that I gone the extra mile to support those who have Personal Atlases and if you have one it will still work though it won't check for DST.  Most likely the locations in your Personal Atlas will now be available with the new atlas. 

As with the old atlas searches can be shortened by entering the name or the first few letters.  It will also just return up to 20 matches and not 200 as in the old atlas.  No entry will produce up to 20 places in the country and unlike the old atlas not limited to ones starting with "A".



Holiday Update

I've been meaning for some time to post about some of the recent changes to the Android versions. But first since Windows 8 has been released I want to let users know that if you have Windows 8 and are having problems with the key code not sticking on Jyotish Tools for Windows just set it to “Run as Administrator.” This also worked for some Vista and Windows 7 users who found the same problem.


I recently updated Jyotish Tools for Android to work better with the (too many) different screen configurations available on Android. Mainly the Info screen which uses different fonts was sometimes taking the font size wrong creating a bad display for some users. I was also concerned on some devices the info screen was a little too small to read. This took a bit of work because the qualifiers for screen size aren't working as Google advertises. In fact I added to a bug issue report on Android about that. For instance a qualifier for 720p (720x1280 or 800x1280 screens) should work but it doesn't. It will take a 360p (half size) instead. There were other odd size screens that needed be accounted for too. In most cases these are for devices running Android 4.0 or higher.


For the holiday season I am noting some sub $100 Android phones being sold in the US. For “Black Friday” there were some deals on the LG 35G phone for $60. That's without a contract so all you pay for the phone itself. The catch is that it is a 240x320 screen or QVGA which I don't recommend for my astrology apps because they need a higher resolution for detail though I have taken pains to make sure they work at that resolution. The phone is also just “Edge” for wireless and not 4G which you may want for quick updates to Google Maps etc.


However as I've stated in the past Google has apparently changed their per unit license fee for the Google API (which my Jyotish Tools requires) so some of these less expensive devices now include Google Play. I am also considering dropping SWREG purchasing for my Android apps as there is no way of filtering non-Android devices. Users who have purchased that way will still be supported. I am looking into another third party for Android API only devices which do not have Google Play that provides a store app to address the problem. Also Amazon.com is expanding their store in other countries and their store app is available on many devices though may not always include paid apps.


Google Maps can be very useful especially in countries like India where there has only been one time zone since the end of WW II. However it is less useful for other countries which have had flaky time zone changes the last 50 years. In the USA the DST time zone dates have been standardized since 1966. For most locations as long as you enter the date first then look it up with Atlas it will include DST.


Better yet however is the Geonames.org project which includes millions of locations in the world. I know some apps use access to Geonames but I find that problematic as I know some folks traveling and particularly using tablets that are wifi only would not be able to access it all the time. Instead I have created a database from the Geonames data for cities of 1000 or more population. This is a 5 MB database and has over 161,000 locations. It will be added in the future as an extra download in the apps. The old atlas will still be there but the new one requires a different interface to make it easier to narrow searches by country. Also it uses the time zone database built into Android devices and most all computers which is historical and for the most part can check for DST on a certain date.


There are some other things in the works for both Jyotish Tools and Tropical Skies including for the latter improved display and the much requested bi-wheel. I have also been working with the JPL Ephemeris and plan to implement that in the future.


Happy Holidays!



New feature and update for Android apps

One of the requests I've been getting recently was for the ability to import and export the charts database.  When I developed most of these apps Android did not support reading and writing to external memory.  I did provide the ability to export the database.  Now for devices with Android 2.2 (Froyo) or better I have included the ability to read and write to the the chart database on external memory (SD card, etc).   This happens automatically for new users but if you are updating, have Android 2.2 or better and want to use this feature then select Export Charts to export your chart database to the JyotishTools folder on external memory and then uninstall/reinstall the app.  A bit of a hassle I know but I found it would be trickier to do it any other way.  Currently this is only for the version of Jyotish Tools on the Android Market.

JyotishTools AE (at Amazon.com)  came with this feature to begin with and so far no one has reported any problems.  I just released Jyotish Tools 1.2.8  on the Android market with this feature.  The step by step details are also in the Help file.  Tropical Skies will also be released shortly with this feature as well as Jyotish Tools Lite and the 10" Honeycomb version of Jyotish Tools.

To have the chart database on external memory solves several problems.  One if you have to fully reset your device then you don't lose the chart database.  Also it allows you do move your charts to a new device if you get one.  I also spares internal memory.  Some folks have accumulated quite large chart databases so this is important.

Another situation is that companies are now making 7" high resolution tablets with Android 3.2 or better. Unfortunately these devices are currently shut out of Jyotish Tools on the Android market.  For one thing the layout for 10" tablets would be difficult to work with on a 7" tablet because the widgets would be too small.  And there are 7" tablets with 1024x600 displays and 3.2  would crop part of the display using the 10" layout.  For 7" tablets even with 1280x720 displays the older tabbed layout is best.  The version of Jyotish Tools on Amazon.com will provide the tabbed display on 7" tablets with high resolution.  Developers are hoping that the Android team can develop a solutions for these overlap situations which are currently difficult if not impossible to solve with the current Android Market setup.

One last thing is the prior update fixed an Android bug which reported false times on some dates in time zones like India and other Asian countries.  This is dependent on the local time zone set on the device not the app.  My tests showed that US, European and Japan time zones were unaffected.  This was also fixed in Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich).  It was rare as it only occurred on older dates and most all dates from post WW II on were not affected.  In some cases it appeared to try to be adjusting the time by DST but that is not the way that function is supposed to work and in some cases if it were to be adjusting for DST the correction would be wrong.

Some Android version updates

All the Android products that have Atlases have been updated to prevent a bug on some devices that generated an "atlas not found" when an atlas search was initiated.  The problem was that the code was made dynamic so if a user added a Personal Atlas entry that atlas would also be listed in the Settings under Select Atlas.  However some of you may have started seeing as atlases listings like "India Atlas-journal".  Journal files were not part of the database generation until recently and they may only exist with newer Android OS's such as version 3.2.1 and up though I may have found them on Gingerbread 2.3.3 OS emulators.  Anyway those journal files have been filtered out so the bug no longer occurs.

Another bug listed this morning on the Android Market comments is a crash that occurs ONLY with the Katmandu, Nepal listing.  Checking the database I see it has an offset for the zone index that causes the problem.  However rather than fix the database I will have an update to all atlas using programs which updates the listing of time zones (to more current version).  This already is in place for the 10" tablet version and the Amazon AE editions (a Jyotish Tools AE has been submitted to Amazon and Tropical Skies AE has been released).  The update also ignores the zone index in the database and uses math instead to get any table listing or if it doesn't exist give the listing as LMT.  For the time being use Google Maps (only in the Market and SWReg versions) for Nepal and -5 hours 45 minutes for the time zone (use LMT if not listed).

Another update in the works is a bit more tricky and that is with devices with Android 2.2 (Froyo) and above is putting the chart database in the Jyotish Tools folder in extended memory.  This way if you need to reset your device then you don't lose your charts.  This has already been implemented for the AE editions.  But please be aware that the AE editions which mean Android OS Only Edition do not have Google Maps.  These editions were created for the many devices that don't have the Google API, the license which adds $50 to the device price plus provides Google Maps and the Android Market.  Devices which are Android OS only are inexpensive tablets like Coby, Cruz, Amazon Kindle Fire, etc.




Jyotish Tools for 10" Android Tablets Released

Version 1.1.8 is as special version of Jyotish Tools for Android that runs on Honeycomb tablets with extra large screens around 10" in size.  Because of the larger size the phone version looked a bit ridiculous and the features of Android 3.0 and higher allowed me to create a display without tabs that shows the natal chart, divisional chart, notes, chart information and dashas all on one page. 

It also allows for editing the natal chart data by tapping on the natal chart which will bring up a full dialog with the newer widgets where you can "fling" the numbers.  Tapping the divisional chart will bring up a dialog where you can select which chart you wish to display.  Long holding on the Notes display will bring up the Notes editor.  All this is also available from the Menu in case you forget.



At this time the Web version of the Android Market may only just show the tablet version but of course version 1.1.7 is available for smaller display devices.  If you have the Android Market on your phone or a non-Honeycomb tablet then it will display the 1.1.7 version as being available.  The Honeycomb version of the Android Market will display version 1.1.8.
 

GPS 101

I did a post on time zones and given my recent improvements to my Android apps it seems that many users don't understand how GPS works.   My old versions would get the cached GPS location (also known as "last known location") and continue to try to get the current location.  Problem with that is you usually just got the cached result the first time the app was run and if that was too old the system would return zeros for longitude and latitude. 

This confused people because they knew that GPS was working on their phone.  So in the new versions I put the location "listener" on a thread and wait for it to return the current location.  It puts up a progress dialog while it does this.  I also will time out after 2.5 minutes and take whatever is available: cached and with some of the newest update the network location (the cell tower location).  Pressing Cancel may still give you the cached or network location which is often just fine for astrology given that we just use coarse atlas coordinates most of the time.  I think some folks thought that pressing Cancel would also cancel the transits chart but it doesn't.  The other advantage of doing it this way is the phone is only running the battery eating GPS chip during the time that it is syncing and not the entire time the app is live.

Devices with GPS chips in them triangulate your position given satellites overhead.  Depending on the number of satellites overhead and the reception you device can get it can take between a few seconds to 2 minutes or more to sync up a location.  Try it with Google Maps.  Often Google Maps will start with either the cached location or the network location if the cached is too old.  I've watched Google Maps take up to two minutes then just stay with the cached location most likely because it couldn't get the info from satellites.

Unfortunately most astrologers want things immediately.  And in many cases when I've tested GPS here it has taken only about 5 seconds to get an accurate fix but other times it would take up to 2 minutes.  I could have done just the network location which is the fastest but that will only work with phones and not wifi only devices.  Some wifi only devices do come with GPS chips.

Time will tell how this all plays out or maybe I should just time out after 15 or 30 seconds.

On another matter one prominent Android device manufacturer didn't particularly make their devices conform to Android standards.  The recent updates for "large screens" aren't working well on these devices.  For one thing I used the term "large screens" for screens that are 480x800 or 480x854 because those are devices with more pixel density than normal devices.  And lists like the chart entry and chart load displays were a little too short on phones with those displays.  This does not mean the extra large screens that are used for tablets with higher displays such as 1024x600.  There will be support for those too though most work just fine with the recent layout improvements.  However that doesn't help the devices that broke the rules.  Hopefully that manufacturer will fix things in a firmware upgrade.

Announcing JyotishTools Lite for Android

In response to folks who thought that $9.95 was too much to pay for an app on a $400 phone I have created a "lite" version of JyotishTools for Android.  This version does not include Systems Approach support, only has 11 divisional charts and no Ashtakavarga and Shritapati support.  It also does not include color charts.  Otherwise all other features are there including the two atlases. 

One new thing I have introduced in this version is a new chart entry screen.  In the old screen people missed that you could use Google Maps by going to the Menu to find the longitude and latitude of any location on earth though unfortunately Google does not supply the time zone so you have to look that up yourself.  On the new screen which is basically a listing of the chart data like a list which you can click on each element and enter data.



This new entry screen will soon replace the one in the full version of JyotishTools Android as well as Tropical Skies.

JyotishTools Lite sells for $4.95 USD and is available on the on the Android Market

Android Market on the web and time in Indiana

Today Google launched a web version of the Android Market.  Click here  to visit the web site. Users and developers have been waiting for this for some time.  As many of you know for the iPhone one could purchase apps off the iTunes store where there was plenty of room to provide more information about the app.  However the Android Market concept for the last two years was mobile only and until recently not much room to give complete app descriptions.  You can purchase an app from the store which will be installed on your phone or tablet as long as it has Google Apps.  Most phones do have the latter though in many countries only free apps and many of the inexpensive tablets don't have Google Apps at all.  JyotishTools, Tropical Skies and Quick Jyotish all require Google Apps to install due to the availability of Google Maps within the app to find location coordinates.


Time in Indiana

Recently a user inquired about their horoscope because the ascendant was off.  They were born in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Turns out that my altas files have EST as the time zone which it has been since around 1953.  Prior to that it was CST.   But it seems that many counties in Indiana can't make up their mind what time zone they're in so be wary of time zones in Indiana.  If you're using the PC Atlas along with Jyotish Tools for Windows or Pocket PC be sure to check for atlas file updates.  

Some of you have probably even heard the expression "time in Indiana" which was a joke about them constantly changing time zones.  For the most part US times zones otherwise remain stable.  In fact I had not even heard about this fluctuation until now and time zones were frequently discussed in some of the astrology workshops I've attended. Here's a Wikipedia article about it:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_in_Indiana


Time Zones 101 and Jyotish Tools Android update

When I first developed astrology software over 13 years ago most users had a history of calculating charts by hand.  Most understood that for a time zone you had to calculate the time it was GMT or UTC from the birth time.  This was because Ephemeris tables are GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) or UTC (Universal Coordinated Time) based. 

These days however we have a new breed of user who has never done astrology by hand and when they go to the Internet to look up a time zone they get a value that is for doing the opposite of what is needed for astrology.  The values on the Internet are for finding the time in a location if we know GMT or UTC time.  Listeners to radio stations like the BBC may have heard things like "it is 1100 hours GMT" and if you wanted to know what time that was in New Delhi you would add 5 hours and 30 minutes because India is ahead of GMT 5 hours and 30 minutes.  If you wanted to know what time it is in San Francisco you might subtract 8 hours because California is 8 hours behind GMT.   But if we the birth time of a person in San Francisco was 8 AM then we would instead add 8 hours to get 1600 hours (4 PM) GMT to get the proper Ephemeris values.  And yes computer calculation algorithms are also based on UTC.

So when I get a comment like this on my "MoonCast Demo" for Android:
"Nothing much here timezone signs are wrong."
We know the user has no actual knowledge of astrology.  Worse yet they may find that because MoonCast is sidereal astrology their Moon sign may well be different.  Of course if I changed the program to use the travel or time of day time zones then even more confusion would reign.  Hence like other astrology software developers I stick the traditional conventions of astrological time zones.

Similar problems have arisen with my desktop programs.  A lot of people think the programs are wrong because they are familiar with their tropical Sun sign and see it different with a sidereal program not even knowing there is such a thing as sidereal astrology even though the program description says so.  But who reads descriptions nowadays?

Jyotish Tools Android Update and Color Scheme

I recently completed an update for Jyotish Tools for Android which adds a nice feature where you can save your horoscope as a picture file in PNG format to your SD card (or external memory).  This can be emailed or printed (there are apps now for printing from Android devices).   This feature has been available with Tropical Skies for awhile but the screen for that program contained all the relevant information so just the screen was saved.  For Jyotish one would naturally not only want the natal chart but the selected divisional or transit chart and the dashas.  The addition does that as a PNG file.

In order to do this efficiently memory wise I had to change the "Theme" for Jyotish Tools from the default or standard theme of a black background and light text to the "Light" Android theme of white background with dark text.  This is a major change in the look of the app and some have written me requesting it.  And naturally you wouldn't want to print a chart that has a black background.  So unless I get objections the new version will be released shortly with the new color scheme.
 
And for those who have requested Tropical Skies via my web site because they don't have the Android Market either in their country or device I will shortly be releasing a version you may purchase through SWReg on my site.

A quick note to blog spammers: your messages are obvious and are rejected.  Furthermore I mark them as spam which means you may find your posted automatically deleted in the future by GoDaddy.


JyotishTools on YouTube

I've created a JyotsihTools channel on YouTube for better demos.  The first demo is for Tropical Skies Astrology and you can view it below.  Putting these demos on YouTube allows for better quality video demos and they will apparently be linked on the Android Market too.  There will also be some demos for JyotishTools too.  Note that the chart entry for JyotishTools is the same as for Tropical Skies.  The demo was created by using an Android Emulator on a PC and a screen capture program.

(Update: I've also added a brief demo of JyotishTools too):

Next up will be a video on how to use the settings for each program and possibly ones that you can play on your Android phone which will fill the screen providing a simulation of the apps.