Yes, I'm still here!
Stuff I'm working on: Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 apps.
Stuff that rocks: BlackBerry Z10, Lumia 620
Stuff that sucks: Jumia
Proper blog posts coming up soon.
I know, I know. I was supposed to post more updates, but I really haven't been able to. There's a perfect valid explanation for not posting, but I'm not telling you. Today, we get straight to business.
I've been developing Windows 8 apps. Thankfully, my knowledge acquired from Windows Phone 7 development with C# and XAML carried over nicely, and I've been writing code night and day. The Store was open to individual developers a few days ago, after which I promptly registered (for $49, of course) and I've been able to successfully publish my first Windows 8 app with the Modern UI style. More on that later, but first a few tips for people new to the store.
First and foremost, reserve your app names early. It only takes a second and it doesn't cost anything (after registration as a developer, of course). I've read stories about app names taken by people who do not own them. Unfortunately, the only way to claim a name that's already taken is to have a registered trademark or copyright for the name. Let's hope Microsoft decides to actually do something about this, but it's something we'll have to live with right now.
If you do not verify your payment method after registering and you submit an app for the certification process, it will get stuck at the Pre-processing stage. If you submit your app for certification and then verify your payment method after, it will remain stuck at the Pre-processing stage. The way I tackled this was to resubmit my app after verify my payment method. Which brings us to the next tip.
Always include a Privacy Statement - usually as a settings command using the Settings charm - if your app makes use of the Internet (Client) capability. This is actually the reason I resubmitted my app. The initial version I submitted did not include a privacy statement. Thankfully, it does not have to be a 10-page legalese document. One of my apps passed certification with this statement.
On to the apps I've been working on. There is ClassicRSS which is a feed reader styled to look like a mail client. I decided to work on this due to the lack of a decent feed reader in the Store. Basically, most of the feed readers freely available from the Store are the Visual Studio Grid App XAML template with RSS feeds shoehorned into them. With ClassicRSS, you've got three panes showing your list of feeds, the feed items for each feed and a view showing the content for the items. Screenshots are more effective than words, which is why there are a few below. It's currently available from the Store. It's free to download until Windows 8 GA when I decide to start charging for it.
The other one is MovieTimes, which is similar to a quick concept I worked on for Windows Phone 7. Basically, the idea is to get the times movies are showing in cinemas and allow a user to schedule a movie event, which is just code for add a reminder to your calendar (Hotmail calendar in this case) for the time the movie is showing and the location of the cinema (if available). As always, screenshots deliver.
The current app I'm working on is SimpleIRC (name reserved, hah!) for Windows 8 as well using the Modern UI (we can't call it Metro anymore *sigh*) style. I'm still trying to figure out a few things but I believe I can have a prototype up and running in a few days. We'll see where this takes us. I'm also really looking forward to the Windows Phone 8 feature announcements and SDK. Hopefully, we can get some info on that in the next couple of weeks.
Oh, by the way, I've been running primarily on Windows 8 and it's been rad so far. For all the naysayers, I'll say give it a shot for a week or two. Sure, there are some annoyances and inconsistencies which I'll cover in another post, but the performance is actually very good, and once you get the hang of things, it feels natural.
Long version: Here's a hypothetical scenario. I visit a city in Nigeria for the first time and I'm looking for things to do and places to go. I have very little or no friends in this strange city, so asking them for ideas is not an option. I'm gonna have to check a site, city guide or something at least. What's the first name that comes to mind? Nothing? That's the void LoungeScape aims to fill. LoungeScape is essentially a city guide which I started working on in March. It's meant to feature points of interests and hotels for tourists, newcomers and even residents of a city that don't know places that exist close to them. I haven't exactly dedicated all of my time to it, but it's coming along quite nicely.
If you've made it to this point without looking at the site yet (it's here just in case you missed it), here are some screenshots for you to feast your eyes on!
Interested in writing articles for LoungeScape? Shoot me an email. If you'd just like to contribute by adding listings or hotels, check out the Contribute column in the footer. Submissions will have to be approved though, cos we can't let spammers ruin all the fun now, can we? For people not interesting in writing nor contributing, you can still support by simply liking the LoungeScape Facebook page or following @LoungeScape on Twitter! There's a LoungeScape Google+ page as well, but it doesn't get automatically updated due to the Google+ API providing read-only access for now.
PS. Too many links to the same page in this post. It almost looks like an annoying ad!
Microsoft organised a three-day Windows Phone 7 development training event which I promptly attended hoping to find a way to unlock my phone for testing apps. Prior to this, there was just no way I could do this considering the App Hub does not accept sign ups from Nigeria, and you have to be registered on App Hub to be able to unlock Windows Phone devices. The fact that you need to unlock your device to deploy and test apps that you write is rather annoying, but that's a story for another day. Due to this, I didn't really bother with Windows Phone development for a while. However, I was able to get my Lumia unlocked at the training event. Oh, and there was also a build-something-for-Windows-Phone-7-in-3-days contest with Microsoft giving away LG Quantums (not a great phone, mind) to the developers of the best three apps. I got one of them.
Now that I have my device unlocked, I'm going crazy with ideas! Developing for the platform is a fantastic experience. I'm no Microsoft shill, but this is really good stuff, and dare I say it's the best mobile platform to develop for. Then again, I've always liked using C# for development and I thought Silverlight was pretty neat when it was first launched. I'm quite happy to develop for the platform, but not completely, due to restrictions. Restrictions, restrictions, restrictions, restrictions. Currently, I can only publish free apps to the Marketplace. Second of all, Windows Phone still doesn't do proper multitasking. I'm still investigating background tasks, but it doesn't seem promising for maintaining socket connections, considering my first (technically, second since I do have to polish and publish the 3-day app for a shot at another Lumia from Nokia) order of business is to port SimpleIRC to the platform.
And just in case you haven't heard, I finally ported Ultimate Stopwatch to Qt and got it published for Symbian Belle devices. It's available from the Nokia Store at http://store.ovi.com/content/262281. The MeeGo version will be published soon.
I got a Lumia 800 as a developer gift from Nokia back in January, and I decided to use it as my primary phone, taking the place of my Nokia N9 (*gasp*), which I absolutely love. It's been an interesting experience to say the least. I'll touch on the good points first of all.
The UI is slick. Really slick. And responsive, too. There is no lag, at all. My Nokia N9 does lag once in a while but that's probably due to the number of apps I have open. The tiles are also very neat and straightforward, but I still prefer the Swipe experience on the N9. I can assure you, however, that Windows Phone 7 is no slouch. The user experience is a great one, and I can say Microsoft did a very good job here. The other thing I love about the phone is the email client. Never before have I wanted to read emails almost all the time. For the first few days, I found myself constantly launching the email client just to admire how beautiful the emails were, which was just ridiculous. And that's all there was to love.
Now, the bad news. I find the lack of options for a few things really disappointing. For example, I cannot turn off the animation for the People tile, nor do I have the option of enabling images to always show up in the email client. I have to manually download pictures for every HTML email I open, which I find rather inconvenient. I'd also like to be able to exclusively specify if I wanted to use 2G or 3G network connectivity. The way the options are presented, you're only allowed you to specify 2G or dual mode.
I also don't like the fact that I cannot access the filesystem on the phone directly, or using USB mass storage mode. Getting media on and off the device is only achievable using the Zune software, or cloud services (SkyDrive, Facebook, Twitter, etc). I also can't transfer files using Bluetooth. Yes, we do a lot of Bluetooth transfers over here. Plus the lack of proper multitasking (see: MeeGo/Harmattan on the N9 for how multitasking should be done). These limitations are the main reason I've always avoided the iPhone, and I find it sad that Windows Phone 7 is this way, but I really hope these features get added in future updates.
My final gripe, which I just discovered recently, is the red-eye effect in photos. I don't usually use cameras on phones, but it's 2012. I shouldn't have to deal editing quick photos that I take with my smartphone. I read somewhere that red-eye reduction is one of features of the camera app, but I can't find it anywhere. Maybe I need to do some more digging.
Oh, and yeah, the Lumia 800 is a really sexy device. Well, considering it's based on the N9 design, obviously.
So I convinced Milla Jovovich to sleep with me.
And she told me she doesn't fake.
(Turns out she wanted to bone me when we first met on the set of the first Resident Evil movie).
Then I woke up.
And nothing happened. I have the weirdest dreams.
2011's almost over! The year didn't go exactly as planned, but it still turned out alright. Trust me when I say this, 2012 is the game changer. That, and the world is probably gonna end in 12 months. Meanwhile, I've got to say, what's up will all the bombings going on in Nigeria? It's starting to get silly. And the president says it's a burden we must live with. Really? That sucks.
I published a few apps for the Nokia N9: Football Live Scores, TopVideo and the SimpleIRC port. The first two are free, so go download them if you own an N9. I've been busy fixing bugs on the Symbian version of SimpleIRC, but I've not been able to add any of the planned features yet (chat logging, SASL support and DCC file transfers). I shall be working on these features next year. Thankfully, the codebase for the MeeGo/Harmattan and Symbian versions is shared so it shouldn't be a major problem bringing the new features to both platforms. I'm also working on a couple of game ideas I hope I can complete in the next year.
Here's to 2012, folks!
It's available for free from the Nokia Store at http://store.ovi.com/content/214062
Apart from the SimpleIRC port (which is not as easy as I thought it would be), I'll be working on a number of other nifty apps for the N9, so stay tuned.
I picked up a black 64GB N9 yesterday and it's pretty awesome! That is all.
Well, there are quite a number of reviews for the device all over the Internet so I'll just run through this. I played with the device much earlier but I was too lazy to write about it. The swipe UI is rather brilliant. It just feels natural once you figure it out. If anything, the N9 is an example of how devices are meant to be built. The hardware also feels very solid and well built. Did I mention it's sexy? The screen is gorgeous. Video playback is amazing. The UI is fast and responsive.
I have a few qualms with the device though. The WiFi radio seems to be a bit flaky. It doesn't pick up as much signal strength as my other devices in the same room. Contacts don't automatically get merged, which is bad considering certain details were pretty much the same (first name, mobile number and email for instance). I configured the device to sync with my contacts using Ovi, and then I imported contacts from my E7. Since the E7 was also synchronised with Ovi, this ended up creating duplicates. Having to manually merge 100 contacts is no fun at all. I also can't set the number of emails to be stored on the device from my Gmail account. This is weird considering I can do so for other mail accounts. I'd also like to be able to add feeds from other sources to the Notifications/Feed home screen. There are software updates coming though, so I hope these issues will get addressed.
Overall, the good outweighs the bad and I'm very pleased. I'll be porting SimpleIRC to the platform and I'm also working on a few app ideas. Sure, it's a DOA product (Why, Nokia? Why?!), but that doesn't mean I can't have fun with it.
In my never ending quest for a reliable Internet Service Provider in Nigeria, I decided to give Mobitel a try. I've been using the connection for almost a month now and it's been a mixed bag. It did not start out great at all. It worked alright for half of the first day and was completely useless for almost a week. Apparently, it turned out they were having technical issues, and I ended up being very unhappy.
It's not all bad, however. I paid for the 2Mbps plan and that speed most of the time. My Steam downloads are relatively quicker, I don't have to wait forever for Youtube videos to buffer, and it's a generally good experience. There are still hiccups from time to time though, and this can be really annoying. Like that one time I lost a very shiny ship in EVE during combat. The other plus is you're assigned an IP address so you don't have to deal with all sorts of bullshit that comes with being behind a NAT (so I'm not left to wonder how I'm banned from a random site I've never visited in my life). I'm probably gonna stick with them though, because faster downloads make the world go round.
In other news, the N9 is a gorgeous piece of hardware. I shall be picking the 64GB version up within the next week or two.
Oh, by the way, in case you didn't notice, I finally sold out. I've installed WordPress. I just didn't have the will to continue working on my home-made blog software. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to continue with my theme and plugin search.
Deus Ex is pretty awesome. And I've started a second playthrough just to get the Pacifist achievement and take up the side quests I missed the first time around. People complained about the boss fights, but I didn't really mind. They were rather easy (even on the hardest difficulty setting), especially the final boss. Up next, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine!
I downloaded and installed the Windows 8 Developer Preview in a VirtualBox VM and I have to say it looks pretty good. Being able to access a proper desktop is nice, but I wish there was a way to get rid of Metro and revert to the classic Start Menu. Alas, whenever you click on the Start button, it takes you to the Metro interface.
I've had a few issues with the VM installation: the display drivers don't work and Internet Explorer 10 hangs when I open up the About screen, or whenever I try to open a URL, and Tweet@rama sometimes hangs the entire system on start up. We'll see how it goes as I'm still trying to break more things, but so far so good, I'm impressed.