SOTA Spotter F.A.Q.



Filters & Notifications


Q: Why doesn’t SOTA Spotter have feature X?

A: I probably haven’t thought about it, or perhaps I don’t know how to implement it. Or maybe it’s not possible. Anyway, you can contact me. Ask and you may receive.

Q: How long would it take to implement feature X?

A: Depending on a lot of things, anywhere from a few days to a few months; I can’t promise anything.

Q: Why doesn’t SOTA Spotter receive any new spots?

A: Since version 1.0.232, SOTA Spotter receives new spots via push messages from the cloud. That functionality requires Google Play services to be installed and enabled.

Q: When I first started SOTA Spotter a pop-up appeared, informing me that I must enable Google Play services. I did that, but I still don’t receive new spots. Why?

A: Newer versions of Android have settings which allow the user (you!) to decide which app has Internet access and by what means (WiFi / Data). Make sure both SOTA Spotter and Google Play services can access the Internet.

Q: I have Google Play services installed and enabled and it has Internet access, as does SOTA Spotter, but I still don’t receive new spots. What did I do wrong?

A: Probably nothing. Have you tried turning it off and on again? 🙂 Seriously, try rebooting your device – this will force SOTA Spotter to re-register for cloud messages. Oh, and one more thing: if your device is behind a firewall that restricts the traffic to or from the Internet, you need to configure it to allow connectivity with Firebase Cloud Messaging. The ports to open are: 5228, 5229 and 5230.

Q: SOTA Spotter displays recent spots when opening the app, but it does not receive spots in the background.
A: First of all, check the previous three questions. If you’re still experiencing problems, it may be because of some battery optimization settings in your Android device. Try adding an exception for SOTA Spotter. Also, VPNs may interfere with push notifications as well.

Q: I use a VPN. Can that cause any issues?
A: It shouldn’t. But it could interfere with background sync and with the summits database update. Try disabling your VPN if you have problems with any of those.

Q: This is frustrating, I’m going to uninstall SOTA Spotter!

A: That’s OK, as long as you re-install it afterwards! This might ultimately solve the issues you’ve been having.

Q: SOTA Spotter is very buggy and unreliable. Why don’t you do a better job with it?

A: Well, I try. But I am only one guy, working on SOTA Spotter in my free time as a side project. I do this in the evenings, sometimes after long and difficult days at my day job. The app should theoretically run on about 8000 types of devices (based on it’s requirements), some of them with multiple flavors. You can imagine that I can only run tests on a handful of those. Software bugs are a fact of life and I won’t pretend I can change that.

Q: Come on! Get some spots, send some spots. How difficult can it be?

A: You’d be surprised. From my experience in software development, most of the times the basic functionality of a new feature is ready fairly quickly – perhaps in 5% – 10% of the total development time. The rest of the time is dedicated to making that feature actually usable by the average user. Error checking, error reporting, redundancies, making the app look good (or at least not too bad). There’s a lot of work involved and a lot that can go wrong.

Q: I’m still not convinced. I’m going to look for another solution.

A: Well, good luck with that. Really, that’s fine. I’m going to keep working on SOTA Spotter for as long as I can and as long as at least some people use it.

Filters & Notifications

Q: What is a filter and how does it work?

A: Generically speaking, a filter is a device that removes, blocks or separates out certain elements. In SOTA Spotter a filter is something you define in order to block (or allow) spots based on certain criteria. Filters in SOTA Spotter work somewhat like iptables works in Linux. There is a default action (accept or drop) which is applied to all spots that don’t match any of the custom filters. When a spot arrives, it moves down through the list of filters, each time checking to see whether all the criteria of the filter match the incoming spot. If they do, the action of that filter (accept or drop) is applied to the spot. The rest of the filters, if any, are ignored. Savvy?

Q: OK, I guess I understand how the filters work. What about the notifications?

A: Well, one important thing to remember is that the notifications you define are only relevant for spots that have been accepted (they have passed through all the filters without being dropped). The action of the notification is different than that of a filter: play a sound, vibrate and/or flash the front-facing LED. The matching process is similar, but each spot passes through all the notifications and can match all, some or none of the notifications. Pretty straight-forward, right?