How I learned about Google Play App Signing Keys.

Recently, I received an email from Google Play services. “Your app has been removed from the Google Play Store for a policy violation”, or something like that. How odd, I thought. I don’t remember doing anything against their terms of service. The email revealed that I didn’t have a valid privacy policy inside the app or on the store listing.

Oh. Right.The GDPR fiasco. It was time to write some privacy policies. After doing so, I began the process of digging up old files to old apps to make the necessary changes to the code. After about 2 hours of reinstalling Android Studio (my hard drive was wiped as some readers may remember), I began the arduous process of exporting the app from Unity to an .APK.

Eventually, I was able to upload the finished .APK to Google’s servers. However, the Play Console threw an error at me; “The signatures do not match”. Wait, what? It’d been too long since I’d actually done this process. I googled the error and broke out into a cold sweat.

Apparently, you generate a .keystore file upon first creating an Android app to sign the application with. It prevents people from uploading versions that aren’t from you I guess? In the unlikely event that a developer’s account got hacked, or something. There was no way to recover said .keystore file if you didn’t have it anymore, meaning there was no way to update my app. Ever. A full, in-depth system scan revealed no .keystore files. Luckily, with the two brain cells that were still functioning, I managed to remember that the other day I had deleted the app-which-I-was-updating’s Android version off my hard drive, because there was no real difference between the iOS and Android version, and I thought it was redundant. Perhaps it was in there?

I checked my Recycle Bin and breathed a sigh of relief. I hadn’t emptied it. It was still there. Opening the folder, the first thing I saw was a “user.keystore” file at the very bottom of the file list. A quick test later confirmed that was the one. Phew.

Apparently those things are important. Don’t lose ’em, kids.


HEY, LISTEN! It’d be really cool if you checked out the app here on the play store, since it just got updated. 😉


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What is Ray Tracing?

With the advent of Nvidia’s new GPUs coming out, the inevitable question was asked of me by friends: What is ray tracing?

Over the past decade or so, graphics in video-games have made enormous leaps and bounds, and it’s now trivial to simulate hundreds of thousands of physics objects all at once with a very standard graphics card. However, the huge leaps in processing power have slowed somewhat, and now small tweaks and improvements to what we already have are being made. This includes hair, water, and light.

Light is one of the hardest things to simulate correctly. There are many ways to fake it, and game developers have gotten very good at certain techniques to make you believe that the sun is over there and casting shadows here, and so on. However, ray tracing is a method that attempts to actually simulate the behavior of the photons of light. Sounds cool, right? You can imagine how intense of a calculation that would be for many light rays. Because of this, it’s not possible for a real-time rendered game or simulation to process it quickly enough to display on a normal computer. Ray tracing is currently only used in pre-rendered films or animations.

Without going into the actual physics of how light and photons work, interesting read here, ray tracing is an expensive operation (takes a lot of computational power). Nvidia is taking steps to make it more feasible and possible in the future by providing “ray tracing upgrades” to their graphics cards. We will have to wait and see how much of an actual improvement they’ve made.


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I’ll stick to ice cream.

I code stuff. That means it’s expected that I drink coffee. I’d like to, but I’ve never gotten around to trying it.

I came close the other day, however. I was walking with an old friend to a small coffee stand right outside where I was taking classes. Standing to the side while she ordered, my eyes quickly took in the delicious looking menu of different ways to drink your coffee. “Raspberry Mocha”, “Irish Mint Frappuccino” (which is apparently frappe and cappuccino put together, who knew), and “Blueberry Cream” jumped out at me. That sounds delicious, I thought longingly, in a wistful sort of way. Plus, I am pretty tired right now.

Even to someone who doesn’t drink, that looks good. There’s something about steaming hot drinks that’s comforting in a way. I imagine the taste to be something akin to coffee ice cream, even though I’ve only had that once. I’ve been informed by my friends that I’m completely incorrect, but that won’t spoil my fantasy. Iced coffee sounds even better.

I’m afraid to start, now. I don’t have the money to buy a new graphics card, let alone coffee all the time to feed my addiction. I’ll leave the coffee drinking to the pros, and stick with my ice cream.


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How to ask good Stack Overflow questions.

Many programmers have low opinions of Stack Overflow. For those of you who don’t know, Stack Overflow is a Q&A site meant specifically for coders. However, it has a reputation for… how shall I say it… being a bit of an elitist gatekeeper-esque very beginner unfriendly place. On the flip side, Stack Overflow is the largest repository of developer answers and questions on the internet, and it’s one of the most visited websites for coding questions by developers, if not the most.

Continue reading How to ask good Stack Overflow questions.


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