Pinball Map iOS App Updated to 3.2

Oh what a day! A new Pinball Map iOS app update has hit the streets.

It’s a modest, yet important, release. Modest because it mostly adds some functionality that was already on the website. And important because 1) those functions are cool! and 2) it marks the end of programmer extraordinaire Frank Michael’s involvement in the project. If we had it our way, FM would still be ‘gramming with us. But FM has this thing called “free will” and he’s walking a different walk these days. He stuck around to complete this latest update, and for that we’re very grateful. Reminder, Frank Michael burst into our lives in 2014 and completely revamped the iOS app from the ground up. This the FOURTH app update of his. He played an important role in the app these last couple years, and now we wish him good fortune in his future endeavors.

Here’s the changelog for the 3.2 release:

[New] View PinTips for Machines
pintips.net is a great site for quickly grabbing some machine tips (and for easily contributing your own). We’re glad to be synced up with it.

[New] Show past Machine Conditions
We keep a record of comments made on machines. Previously, you could only see the most recent one. But now you can view past one’s, too!

[New] Show the last time a Location was updated
Is the data for this location two years old, or was it updated yesterday? The answer to this question is now at your fingertips.

[New] Ability to confirm the information for a given Location is up-to-date
Say the location data hasn’t been updated in two years, and yet it’s still up to date! If there’s no data to update, but you’d like to tell the world that you’ve verified the data, now you can with a click of a button.

and…
[New] Filter Nearby Map based on a set of distances (From 10-50 miles
from your current location)

[Fix] Update list of Regions when main site is updated
[Fix] Minor UI Issue where Machine names would not be formatted correctly

Pinball Map Partners with Stern

If you’ve visited the Stern Pinball website in the last few days, you’ll surely have noticed a giant Pinball Map logo in the homepage slideshow. We’re excited to announce that we’ve formed a partnership with Stern Pinball!

Put simply, Stern thinks Pinball Map has the best maintained data, and when people ask, “where can I play your machines?” they point to us.

A key component to sharing the love of pinball is playing them on location. Location pinball reaches more eyes, and tends to be more social. So knowing how to find public pinball is really important. We try to make it as simple as possible to find machines, and we’re happy that Stern (AND all of our users) thinks our site is succeeding.

It’s a mutually-beneficial relationship. Stern is by far the largest pinball manufacturer, and they have a robust social media presence. The more folks they drive to our site, the more up to date our site is. And the data on our site gives Stern an idea of where people are playing and where pinball is growing.

(And for full clarity: this isn’t a sponsorship (we’re not making any money); pinballmap.com is not beholden to Stern.)

As a related aside, we just played Ghostbusters LE the other day, and holy crap is that game fun. So many cool shots packed in there. Stern is at the top of their game right now!

Frequently Asked Questions

We added an FAQ to the site!

We don’t get a lot of questions, but we do get a fair amount of statements. For example, “There are no more machines at this location.” We’re including these statements in the FAQ, and to make them look like questions we added question marks at the ends (that’s how you make something a question, right?). At the moment the FAQ link is tucked away in the menu within a regional map. But we’ll add the link to the homepage soon, too.

At this point, the topics cover:

- Criteria for adding new regions
- Role of administrators

And more.

If YOU have a question, feel free to ask it.

Roanoke, Tucson, Bend

Hey. HEY!

We added three new regions recently:

Roanoke, Virginia

Tucson, Arizona

Bend, Oregon

EDIT: And CHICO!!!

The Bend locations haven’t been added yet, but will be soon. They have a nice growing pinball scene there.

If you live in any of these areas and know of locations that aren’t listed, please submit those locations! Roanoke’s gotta have more than three locations, right? We want them ALL listed!

Updated Criteria for Creating New Pinball Maps

As much as we want to consider this site to represent anarchism in motion – with anonymous, equal users contributing bits of knowledge – there is a hierarchy of roles. Scott and Ryan are gatekeepers, allowing or denying the creation of new regions. And admins are sub-gatekeepers, allowing or denying the creation of new locations. This made us think: What if we (scott and ryan) are a weak link in this process. We don’t think we are… but still, it made us wonder for a minute there.

People regularly email us asking for a new region. Some of these requests don’t go anywhere. They usually don’t go anywhere because 1) the requests don’t say anything about wanting to administer the data for that region (and they don’t respond when we ask them about that), 2) the region only contains one or two locations, and/or 3) the request is made by an operator.

So, in an attempt to codify this, we’ll elaborate a bit on those three points. They are necessary points when creating a new map.

1) Each map must have a local person acting as an administrator. The administrator must care about the integrity of the map! They’re an overseer. It doesn’t take much work to be an admin. But a good admin is the difference between a languishing, sloppy map and a maintained, clean one. And regular users get a lot more out of a well-maintained map.

So if you request a map, but don’t want to be the admin, then you don’t get a map.

Fun fact: right now the site has 73 regions and over 90 admins.

We’re often looking for NEW admins. If you want to help maintain your local map, hit us up. It never hurts to have more.

2) When areas just have a couple locations with pinball, the maps usually don’t see much action. Ideally, a new region will have 10 (ten) or more locations. But of course, this isn’t always the case. However, we’re going to try and stick to this. The more locations an area has, the more active the map. It’s really cool that your area has one giant arcade with 40 machines. But do you need a map for that?

3) Admins can’t be operators. We’ve had a couple bad experiences lately with admins who are operators failing to remain neutral. In one case, we deleted the region because the guy only added his own places (and did a terrible job with the data entry) and ignored all other location submissions, and in the other case that admin resigned because he steadfastly refused to add his competitors locations (followed shortly by that region experiencing the most malicious edits that we’ve seen in nine years of doing this).

There is a major difference between operators and all the other people who use the maps: operators are in it to make money. It’s their business. And that’s great – part of the mission of this site is to promote pinball, and operators are at the foundation of this. They put machines on route. This map doesn’t exist without them. For everyone else (including us) it’s purely for pleasure. But since operators have a financial stake in contents of the site, they sometimes take it really seriously and personally. For example, to one operator, a “right flipper broken” machine comment might be responded to in the comments with, “oh, thanks, I’ve fixed the flipper.” And another operator might respond to that with, “A++ Machine, Brand New LED. Plays Perfectly, You Gotta Come Down Here And Check It Out!!!” Did this latter operator fix the issue? Not sure. What is more clear is that the comment resembles an advertisement.

It’s flattering to us that operators think this website impacts their business. We want to help them and encourage them to maintain their machines. But… bottom line, they can’t be admins.

Regional Map Model Poll Results

We had a poll to see if people want ONE GIANT MAP or to keep our current regional model. The feedback was great! And here are the results:

36 people voted. Well, 33 of them voted, and 3 of them skipped voting and just left a comment on the poll (which is different than leaving a comment on the blog post).

15 (45.45%) voted for regional maps.
18 (54.55%) voted for one giant map.

And some, in comments, wanted both. Some also wanted the regional maps to be broken up by state.

What does this all mean? Well, it means we’re still discussing things. One giant map is intriguing. Having both is also intriguing. We’ll keep you posted! But for now we thought we’d share the poll results. Interesting how it’s close to a split, don’t you think? But that doesn’t make our jobs easier!

Pinball NYC Locator

Here’s a cool example of a third-party site using our data. Pinball NYC’s locator pulls all of the data from the New York City Pinball Map and reskins it on their site so that league members can find places to play. Kris, the founder of Pinball NYC, is also our admin for the NYC map. He just released a big to the league’s site, and added in this feature as part of it.

Their league formula can be used in any city! So contact him if you’re into it.

Operators: We Want You

Do you operate machines that are listed on pinballmap.com?

When something’s wrong with one of your machines, do you want to know about it so you can fix it ASAP?

If you answered YES to those questions, then read on.

For all your locations, we can “tag” you as the operator. Then, you can “search by operator” for yourself, and pull up all your locations. From there you can quickly update the locations (add/remove machines) and see if anyone has left comments about the conditions of your machines. Pretty handy, right?

But wait! There’s more: If you choose to provide us with your email address, then we’ll automatically send you a daily email that contains all the comments left on your machines. This is a simple way to see what problems people are reporting (and note to sensitive operators: most of the comments people leave are about problems, so don’t let them hurt your feelings). Then you can fix them, and then leave a new comment that says, “Fixed!”

If no one leaves a comment on one of your machines, then you won’t get an email that day. If you decide you don’t want to receive them anymore, just tell us.

What do we want from you?

If you want your locations tagged with you, then we’ll need your business name and a list of your locations.

If you also want to receive the daily digest of comments, then please include your email address.

How do you send that to us?

You can send it directly to the administrator of whichever region your machines are in. For example, if your machines are in the Grand Rapids region, you’d use the contact form on the Grand Rapids Pinball Map.

Or you can send it to the uber administrators, Scott and Ryan, using the Portland Pinball Map contact form.

We added this feature as a service to you. We hope it makes your life easier, and your customers happier. Thanks!

New England Pinball Maps

The Boston Pinball Map was a big map. How big was it, you ask? It covered a good portion of New England.

But if you live in Connecticut, would you know to look under the Boston map in order to locate pinball machines in your area? Probably not. So, in order to make the regional maps in that area more intuitive for people, we split them up in state regions. So now instead of a Boston map we have:

Massachusetts Pinball Map
Connecticut Pinball Map
Rhode Island Pinball Map
New Hampshire Pinball Map

We didn’t create Vermont or Maine, because there are already two city-based maps in them:

Burlington, Vermont Pinball Map
Portland, Maine Pinball Map

We’re looking for administrators for Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire! If you live in those states, love pinball, and enjoy punctuating things correctly and helping keep data clean, then please contact us.

Update Location Metadata - Show Closest Locations

New website features:

1) Users can now edit some location metadata fields:

- Operator
- Location Type
- Phone Number
- Website

To edit them, lookup a location then click “click to update location metadata”.

Both Operator and Location Type are from dropdowns. So if you want to assign an operator that isn’t currently listed, then you should use the contact form and request to have that op added.

Notes:
The Website field currently only accepts values that start with http:// – But we’ll soon have it also accepting https://

The Phone Number field only accepts this format: 000-000-0000. And we haven’t added error messages yet! So, if you type in (000) 000-0000 you’ll be silently rejected.


2) Regional maps now include a “Show Closest Locations” button! When clicked, it will display all locations within a 5 mile radius.

This button is in the header.

The results even show how far each spot is from you!

We’ll be adding in more geolocation-based features to the website soon.

Location Timestamps

A lil’ ditty ’bout location timestamps.

Ever wondered when a location was last updated? Like, is the machine list possibly old and stale? Or is it new and fresh? Well wonder no more! Now each location has a timestamp that shows when it was last updated. The timestamp is automatically updated when machines are added/removed from the location, and when machine comments are made.

There’s also a button so that you can click with either your mouse or your finger (if you’re on a touchscreen) to confirm that the machine list is up to date. So, even if you don’t have an update to make, but you know the machine list is current, then you can click it and feel good about your good self.

We’ll roll out this feature to the app in a bit. For now it’s just on the web. And if a location hasn’t been updated since we added this to the website, then the timestamp isn’t there.

Here’s an example of it in action: Bierstube on the Twin Cities Pinball Map was last updated on October 8, 2015.

Take care, everyone.

Geolocation

Feature update: We added a button to the top of the home page that says, “Find Your Closest Map.” When clicked, you’ll be prompted to share your location (basically using this logic). If you share it, the browser will automatically take you to your closest regional map.

This takes some of the guesswork out of finding the map that covers your area.

Let us know how it’s working for you!

Coming up, we’ll add a “show closest locations” button. This feature will bring the website up to speed with the app. This is probably one of the more useful features on the app, so we’re excited to add it to the website. This way, even if you don’t have a device that can run the Pinball Map app, you can still make use of its best features!

Pinball Map Android App v2.2

Gather around children, for I have a story to tell. Great! Nice job. So, this is the story of an app. This app’s name was Pinball Map, and it lived in the realm of Android, within the land of Pinballia. When this story begins it was 2.1.2 versions old, and was well-liked in the realm. Whenever folks were visiting a new town, or looking for some fun in their own town, Pinball Map of Android was there to help out. You see, Pinball Map had a special gift: it helped people find pinball machines to play. And each time it did so, the citizens of Android rewarded Pinball Map by updating its data and giving it stars. And while stars are cool and all, Pinball Map was especially grateful for these updates. Because if locations weren’t updated, then the data would be stale and smelly, and Pinball Map would be less valuable to people.

Then one day the gods gathered together in their cloud kingdom and peered down at little Pinball Map of Android. They saw it working away, and they saw the people smiling and playing pinball. Things were looking good in Android. But being gods, they were aware of happenings deep within both Android and elsewhere in Pinballia. They observed the increased capabilities of Pinball Map of Android’s brethren, Pinball Map of iOS and Pinball Map of Website; they read bug reports; and they examined user behavior. They also remembered that Pinball Map of Android, while blessed with gifts, was also cursed with the inability to grow up on its own. Version upgrades were the responsibility of the gods, and the gods alone. And so the gods soon decreed that Pinball Map of Android deserved an upgrade so it could better serve the people. Thus, they rode their personal hoverclouds down to Pinballia and fiddled with Pinball Map’s guts. They reassembled and appended, and then tested the results.

In the end, Pinball Map of Android version 2.2 was born.

The gods then dropped a nugget of knowledge down to the people, in the form of a large nugget with writing on it. When read, it read:

Please enjoy Pinball Map of Android version 2.2. Make note of the following updates (and bear in mind that it may be incomplete, because sometimes even gods are forgetful):

  • support for Android 4.0.3, Ice Cream Sandwich, and Android 5.1
  • new region selection screen
  • add multiple conditions
  • show last condition in location view
  • save position in machines and locations list when navigating back and forth between screens
  • distance to locations will change based on GPS movement
  • menu options and buttons changed (not sure how many were changed)
  • fixes for commonly seen app crashes
  • fix for showing locations on the map

We urge the people of Android to make use of version 2.2 by upgrading the Pinball Map of Android beacon on their smartphone. That way, when you call for Pinball Map, the latest and greatest will serve you.

Jackpots be with you.

Your gods,
Jah Ryan, Jah Scott, and featuring guest god Jah Brian

And that’s the end of my story. Hope you learned something.

PinTips Integration

A few days ago we got a note from Andreas Haugstrup Pedersen, a Bay Area-based pinball player and software developer (creator of the tournament software, Match Play), about a new site he made: PinTips! PinTips is a crowd-sourced site with short and sweet playing tips on hundreds of pinball machines. Users can upvote/downvote tips, so the best rise to the top. It has a clean, simple interface, and is really fun to explore.

Andreas used our API to link to Pinball Map from each PinTips entry. If you click the “Find on Pinball Map” link on, say, The Sopranos, you’ll be redirected to the closest Pinball Map region, and it will display all the Sopranos machines in it. Really cool!

We thought it would be great to reciprocate the gesture. So we added a link to the respective PinTips entry underneath each machine in the location details. To see it in action, check out the Belmont Inn in Portland. We’re excited to have this integration with PinTips, and we hope you find it valuable!

Since it’s launch two weeks ago, PinTips has amassed 861 tips across 264 machines, contributed by 95 people! He said on TiltForums that he’d like to see 1,000 tips by the end of September. Have something to add? Sign up and share your knowledge!

Pinball Map Privacy Policy

We created a privacy policy! http://pinballmap.com/privacy

It’s pretty simple. The two main components are that we use Google Analytics to collect data, and we collect IP and device info for certain actions. All of these are “non-identifying” – we don’t have user accounts, so we don’t know who you are. We just know that there are people who do certain things on the site (like remove machines from locations) and they do so using x browser/app on y device.

Regarding Google Analytics, honestly we’re not very diligent with viewing it. And we don’t do anything with that data (no advertising) aside from getting a read on how many visitors hit the site and what browser they’re using. If we learn that GA is slowing down performance, we’d probably scrap it and life would continue.

Anyway, we thought it would be right to share this privacy policy with y’all.