:::: MENU ::::

Achievement Unlocked – Windows Phone Development MVP

This morning there was awesome in my Outlook inbox on my Windows Phone. Over the last 8 months I have genuinely shown my passion for the Windows Phone ecosystem through authoring Pluralsight courses, blog articles on several websites, public talks, mentoring other developers, building apps, organising a conference and generally educating and helping anyone willing to listen to my ramblings. I have even been invited by Nokia to Sweden to build prototyping software for the Lumia 1020 when that came out.

I have not done this to specifically target the community in a certain way, but rather I have organically helped out where I can and given back where possible.

I am really proud to announce that this morning Microsoft rewarded me with an MVP award for Windows Phone Development. This is a great doff of the hat from Microsoft, and I can’t wait to be even more involved in the Windows Phone community in the future.

MVP Award

Thanks to my best mate Alex Mackey for nominating me and providing guidance in who to bri… I mean influence.

 


Review: Intempo TableTop iTower Bluetooth Speaker

First impression is that you get a lot for your money. For just over $30, this is an impressive box and weight. It actually feel like you have bought something quality like and not just another Chinese mass produced product (even though it is).

Unpacking

The box really is all speaker. There is a small box of wires and a manual, but other than that the Intempo speaker takes up all the space. You also get a double jack lead, which I will get back to. And then most puzzling of the lot, you get a power cord with a UK main plug. No adaptor. I didn’t have a UK adaptor for an Australian plug. To me, that is just poor consumer maintenance. If I can’t use your new toy straight out of the box, I get frustrated and annoyed. I want to try it out right now.

I got in contact with Mobile Zap, and they assured me it was a warehouse mistake and sent out a converter plug quick smart. All good.

Speaker Box All parts in the box Continue Reading


Free Market – The Wrong Way to Develop Windows Phone Apps

[update]: I have been made aware that “Free Market” has been pulled from the store. As much as I would love to think this article had an influence, the important thing is that the topic of maintaining the Windows Phone eco-system as developers, is discussed.

Earlier today I was made aware of the Windows Phone app “Free Market”. Nothing unusual about that; I look at tons of apps all the time. However, this one made me half cringe, half sweat. Basically, it is an app that allows you to search the Store for an app, and then the app will check every single location to see if the app is free in any other market.

Free Market Continue Reading


Ten reasons to be a Windows Phone Developer

1 DVLUP

One of my favourite parts of being a developer is the DVLUP portal and network. Essentially it is a gamification initiative to provide encouragement and incentive to developers to build and enhance apps with specific features. As a developer you earn experience points (XP), which you can then trade in for really cool stuff like device, earphones or design reviews and licenses for tools. It really gives you an extra push to get your apps done by a certain date to get that Lumia 1020 or an hour in the hands of a designer that can help you get the right workflow and layout.

DVLUP is free to join and fully integrates with your Microsoft account as well.

DVLUP Continue Reading


Nokia Camera Grip – Excel Your Mobile Photography with Lumia 1020

Unpacking

As with any Nokia product the initial look and feel of the packaging is of quality. To me Nokia has always packaged their products well. It might be my Scandinavian background, but I appreciate an understated and clean livery for the product. Unpacking the box reveals a pack on manuals (who ever reads those?), a leather wrist strap and the grip itself.

Unboxing Continue Reading


#WinPhan Scavenger Hunt

Our friends at #WinPhan is launching the Scavenger hunt. Read below for all the details.

Scavenger Hunt Promo Pic

Win WP prizes and more for entering your photos of Windows Phone themed targets! 

IDEA: #WinPhan Scavenger Hunt

DESCRIPTION:
This scavenger hunt contest will span 5 months commencing on the March 1st, awarding 1 Windows Phone themed prize per week for the first four weeks and bimonthly for the remaining 4 months for a total of 12 prizes. Each week an entrant will be drawn via a random number selecting software and awarded without bias. The 12 winning finalists will be automatically entered into a random final drawing for the grand prizes, a Lumia 1020 and a Lumia 1520. Weekly/fortnightly prizes will be detailed in each relative announcement post on Winphan.net.

RULES:
To participate, register at http://winphan.net, (registration required so that we can verify your email) simply take a picture of the target theme for that week, then share a OneDrive(SkyDrive) link of that photo to: contest [at] winphan.net  A maximum of 2 entries per participant is allowed per target theme/contest round.

TIMES:
Each target theme will be posted on Monday’s at 8am PST and entries must be submitted by the following Sunday’s at 5pm PST for the weekly and every other Sunday at 5pm PST for the bimonthly. Winners will be announced on Tuesdays via our website winphan.net, Facebook page and Twitter accounts [@winphan_global, @thewinphan].

CONTACT:

Winners will be contacted via email on occasion of weekly draw announcement. An email will be sent requesting certain details, Full Name, Phone Number, shipping address, clothing sizes and preferences if applicable, and any other information that may be deemed necessary by us to deliver prizes in an expedited manner.

Any information collected by Winphan.net will be handled in accordance with our privacy policy, and not shared in any way with any other entity.

Failure of any contestants to respond to email in a timely manner, [ie; one month from the most recent attempt by winphan.net to contact them] will result in prize forfeit, and another random drawing for the prize to be awarded to another participant from the same round of the contest.

This contest is open to people from all parts of the globe, and irrespective of what device the images submitted to the scavenger hunt are produced on.

SCAVENGER HUNT TARGET ITEMS(Each Weekly Target Theme Are To Be announced On Monday’s)

  • WP SWAG(Pens, Stickers, etc.)
  • WP Clothing
  • WP7 Device
  • WP DIY Project(Holders, Cases)
  • WP Art(Kids Drawings, Your Drawings, Unique WP)
  • WP In The Wild
  • WP(W8) Ads(Billboards,Print,Adverts)
  • WP Converts
  • Your WP Carrier or MS Store(Selfie)
  • Multiple WP(Collections)
  • WP Cameos(Movies/TV/Music)
  • WP Food And Beverage(Baking/latte art)

PRIZE LIST:

WEEKLY PRIZES:

  • WP SWAG
  • WP Clothing
  • Accessories
  • WP App Vouchers

GRAND PRIZE:

  • Lumia 1520
  • Lumia 1020

WinPhan Logo

About #WinPhan

Windows+Phone+Fan=#WinPhan!

#WinPhan is a community built to connect Windows Phone owners, offer support, spread the good word about Windows Phone, and bring the lighter side of WP to you! Our #WinPhan community is comprised of Windows Phone enthusiasts, average users, beginners, developers, fanboys, and fangirls! Together, we all share in our admiration and appreciation for Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8! While we might talk about the news…we’re focused on sharing each person’s experience and personal journey! Join us as we have fun spreading the joy of Windows Phone to and with others using pics, tweets, videos, and other goodies too! Learn how to get the most from your Windows Phone from people just like you!


5 Tips to Improve User Efficiency

This post was first published on blog.dvlup.com

I have developed a few apps in my time, but nowhere near as many as I would like nor have ideas for. There is always more apps to build and my mind is never short of projects to do next. However, I endeavour to build apps that are useful, well tested, solves a worthwhile problem and I can be proud of. Part of that process is to make sure that the app is as efficient for the user as possible. In particular I keep the following five areas in mind when developing. If the users of your app can do what they need to more efficiently, they are much more likely to continue using your app and recommend it to others as well as giving it favourable reviews.

Continue Reading


Win a Nokia 625 and Build an Awesome Windows Phone App

[Update] The deadline for submission in the competition is over. The winners will be announced soon.

I love the Windows Phone eco-system and I truly believe it is the most awesomest place to be as a developer. And that is why I want to give something back to the community. I have a Nokia 625 to give away to one passionate and ambitious developer that wants to get into Windows Phone development. Nokia 625 What I expect from you:

  • Keen and ambitious attitude. If you get selected I expect you put in the effort to design and develop your first Windows Phone app.
  • No prior published Windows Phone apps.
  • A great, original idea (describe below).

What you get from me:

  • Personal mentoring and help throughout the development of your app.
  • One new Nokia 625 (Australian edition).
  • Help to market your app.
  • Tips and pointers on building the best app possible.

The final day for entries is Sunday 9 March 2013. Disclaimer: I pick the winner at my complete discretion. It is my decision entirely. I will post the Nokia Lumia 625 with the cheapest and safest service for the winner’s destination (no on ever said Windows Phone development would make you a millionaire). Fill in the form and let me hear about your brilliant ideas (multiple submissions are welcome). [formidable id=3]


Nokia Hardware – Future Gadgets

In the last few months there has been a lot of rumours about Nokia and its future hardware strategy. Especially after Microsoft has purchased the Nokia Handset division, the rumours have seen to keep on coming. To me, Nokia has always been a symbol of superior hardware that is both durable, beautiful and convenient. Even when Nokia chose to go with Symbian for the majority of their devices I still drooled over the handsets, but the OS put me off.

Now that the brilliant and superior Windows Phone eco system has found its way to Nokia, the combination is a match made in heaven for me. I want every handset that comes out (although the “boss” doesn’t agree with this). There are new handsets coming out all the time, and the rumours keep that strategy alive for us consumers and developers. The line now consists of low end phones like the Lumia 620 to the incredible Lumia 1020 with a 41 Megapixel camera that outperforms not just mobile phone cameras on other devices, but dedicated digital cameras in droves. There is the new “phablet” Lumia 1520 with its gorgeous 6 inch screen and even a new Windows 8 tablet, the Lumia 2520 (which was said to be a “bizarre move” back in April).

But where does the road lead ahead. Lately a few drips and draps of information has come out of the rumour mill that is the Internet, and I will try and make sense of them below. Please add any devices or ideas I might have missed in the comments below.

Goldfinger and Moneypenny

According to Mary Jo Foley from ZDNet, the next iteration of Windows Phone is reaching RTM stage at the end of March with possible public availability early May. I would fully expect new devices from Nokia to be launched as part of the big fanfare, and apparently two new devices, code named “Goldfinger” and “Moneypenny” are in the works. Goldfinger is the flagship model of the two and comes with a unique 3D touch feature, which will recognise 3D gestures. Currently the Lumia Glance feature will show the time if you wave your hand in front of the screen, but this could be much more. I hope they will open it up to developers, so we can get a play with app specific gestures. It could be really interesting for games depending on accuracy. The fact that Nokia is planning new handsets for the 8.1 release is very exciting.

Nokia 3D Touch Patent

Nokia 3D Touch Patent

Lumia 1820 – 5 inch Phone

On the back of the great reception of the Lumia 1520 Phablet, Nokia is planning a smaller 5 inch model of the same family, dubbed the Lumia 1820. This means a full HD screen and the new Lytro-style main camera. The camera can take a picture and you determine the focal point after the fact. Apparently it also sports a full metal body, which would be a style change for Nokia. Hopefully this means the enormous amount of cracked screens I see will go down. But probably not.

This could be a possible replacement for the flagship Lumia 1020, but I am doubtful about that. I have used my 1020 for about 5 months, and I absolutely love it. I have already filled up the memory with photos once, and I now rarely carry my large DSLR anymore. A possible replacement device would need to have equal or better camera performance for me to change. Having said that, Nokia continues to amaze me, so I am not making any bets.

Lumia 2020 – 8 Inch Tablet

In the same vein as the 1820 above, the 2020 is a Windows 8 tablet, which will fill the gap in the product line. Hopefully it will not be running the RT version, but maybe it will. I don’t know much about this device, but nonetheless it is on all the rumour gauges for Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at the end of February 2014.

Normandy Android Phone

This is an interesting one. Apparently Nokia has an Android project in the works, and the hardware is similar to its Lumia line-up. There has been so many rumours that it is probably true, and it certainly raises a few questions initially. The most pressing one is: If Microsoft has bought Nokia, why is there an Android device being born?

If you look at the leaked photo, it is somewhat resembling the Windows Phone start screen. This could be a way of getting a low cost Nokia device into the hands of more people, and then making the switch to Windows Phone is less arduous, when that time comes. I wouldn’t be surprised if it would share some features of the current Asha platform as well. It is very likely to be a low end device, and only sold in emerging markets.

It is likely that this device will also be launched or premiered at MWC in Barcelona.

Nokia Normandy

Smart Watch

Finally there is the matter of Smart Personal Object devices, in this case a Smart Watch. This is all rumours and there is no actual evidence of its existence, but considering Samsung has brought out the Galaxy Gear, it seems more likely.

It is unclear what the functionality or hardware would be, but I could imagine a camera, viewfinder for your Lumia’s camera, notifications and calendar/reminders. Oh, and it might show the time too.

If it is anything like these designer concepts from a Facebook Phone Designer account, we can start to drool all over again.

Nokia Smart Watch 1 Nokia Smart Watch 2 Nokia Smart Watch 3


Unit Tests Could Save You $$$

First published on blog.dvlup.com

Most developers have at some point in their career of building software solutions come across unit testing. There are a variety of reasons why you start using unit testing. In some cases it is a matter of necessity to sort out what works and what doesn’t in a legacy project you are taking over. It could be a client requirement to meet a particular quality requirement for delivery, it could be an internal policy to keep software maintainable or meet a certain KPI (shudder!). Whether you current project is, don’t be mistaken: Unit testing could save you both time and money. In fact it is extremely likely it will.

In all of the projects I work on now, there is a very clear line of when I choose to use unit tests. If I am building a production ready product, there is no question. Unit tests are a first class citizen from the beginning. If I am building a prototype to test a technology or prove a point, I use unit tests more liberally in areas that have great importance. In either case I always implement unit tests, because they make my life easier. And as a developer I am inherently lazy, so anything that make my job easier I will use.

We have established that you should always use unit tests, but why? Although the aim of this article is not to teach you how to write unit tests (there are plenty of resources on this), it is worth noting the reasons for including them.

  • Quick way to identify logic errors in code. Even if your code compiles, it does not guarantee that the logic is correct.
  • Details change daily, but the sentiment rarely does. Your product is a living being, and you will make changes to it all the time. However, existing features should remain consistent.
  • Allows you to make big changes to code quickly. Your functionality can be tested quickly at every step of the change.
  • Refactor with confidence. Code wide refactoring can be done quickly using your favourite code refactoring tool, and then unit tests can verify the legitimacy of the changes.
  • Instant visual feedback. You can run unit tests automatically as part of your build process and the results can be displayed on a dedicated screen.
  • Red means broken, green means go. Quickly identify where an error is by looking for failed tests.
  • Great unit tests can help document code. Often unit tests will tell a story if done appropriately. This will help any future developers understand the code quicker and with more confidence.
  • Improves coding efficiency. Adding unit tests to a project does not mean writing the code twice. Because you know what the code should achieve you will get there faster.

Any of the reasons above can be applied to most projects, and even if you are just a single developer, don’t think it is only for larger projects. Writing apps for Windows Phone is often a single resource project, but all of the above points still apply. You might think you know the code intricately, and you most likely do, but when you finish the project and don’t look at the code for 6 months, unit tests can help you can back on the horse quick smart.

How Do You Identify Test Cases?

Unit tests are there to confirm your logic and to give you confidence that your code is solving the problem you set out to. But how do you know what to unit test and what to leave? You shouldn’t unit test every single aspect of your project, as that is highly inefficient and a lot of tests will be unnecessary.

In general the areas to test are

  • Domain logic. Any calculations or workflow logic you have should be unit tested. The same goes for any business values that affect your application.
  • Application specific areas. If an area is specifically used only in your application logic, make sure it is tested thoroughly. You won’t be able to rely on built-in functionality if you have built it all yourself.

Likewise there are some areas you shouldn’t test.

  • Framework functionality. If you are using a framework, such as the .NET framework, don’t test it. Whoever built it, i.e. Microsoft, have done a lot of testing before releasing it. This includes generic collections, web handlers, I/O functionality etc. Always assume that a framework is working as expected.
  • Testing across layers. Don’t test across logical layers, such as between database and business logic. This falls under integration testing and is a whole other area of testing.

Keeping Unit Tests Alive

The most important thing when it comes to your unit tests is that you love them. Care for them and give them plenty of attention. Don’t leave them in the corner to face into obscurity, because you might as well not have created them in the first place.

Unit tests are first class citizens and must always be treated as such. If you change code involving one or more tests, make sure you update the tests where necessary as well. Broken tests must be fixed and not just commented out and forgotten. Unloved tests will almost certainly come back to bite you.

If you want to know more about unit testing, integration testing, performance testing, error management and much more in that area for Windows Phone, watch my latest Pluralsight course on the topic, Windows Phone Testing and Error Management. It will make your app robust, reliable and successful.