October 2007 - Posts
Two weeks ago Mike Schroepfer, a Mozilla developer, announced that they'll launch a version of Firefox that can be run mobile devices. If you own a Windows Mobile device, you're probably craving for a better browsing experience, just like I am. I've seen Deepfish, a new browser by Microsoft, but it's in early betas.
The interesting part however is that, according to Mike Schroepfer, mobile devices currently outsell computers 20 to 1. I remember Microsoft saying in some article or at some conference that by 2010 a total of 1 billion people will be accessing the internet using mobile devices. These numbers hopefully make you consider if the mobile market is worth investing in, especially being a developer.
At Class-A we're busy with our own mobile development training. We're not using standard Microsoft (MOC) material, but creating our own, so we can incorporate best practices and use .NET Compact Framework 3.5, which Microsoft probably won't have material for, for a long time. This features LINQ and WCF which are great enhancements. I've just blogged about the .NETCF 2.0 application I've been building, and the next step is to build it again in .NETCF 3.5.
If you experience the Compact Framework for the first time, it might be a though start. But once you get it, it's a really fun experience building on an entirely different platform. It's not the C# that's difficult, it's the new challenges like the user interface, different screen resolutions, connections and synchronizing data between your device and the server, performance considerations that are completely different from the full .NET Framework, etc. But when you put some time in it, it's really rewarding to see your application running on a mobile device and having other people enthusiastic about it.
Although LINQ is the 'expected' next evolution in programming, I think people can't even start to wonder what will happen in the mobile world. How it will advance on both hardware and software. Will we keep small screens or walk around with large origami like pc's? What will be possible on your mobile, especially with Silverlight mobile on the way.
The mobile platform is sure something that has my attention and I hope more people will join me. Together we can create a great future.
Wow, does that sound like a dull marketing line! ;-)
If you've finished Portal by now, you know what I'm talking about. If not, go boot up Portal and play it until you're finished!
Since I've played it, I'm in love with the companion cube. And as it seems, I'm not the only one! The best news is, Valve has recognized the love and promised we can buy our very own companion cube from the valve store! Read the initial email to Gabe Newell and the reply of the store manager (?) Jason Holtman who says they've been in production for two months and ready in time for the holidays. I sure hope so, because I've contacted the appropriate person at Class-A already to make sure it's my birthday gift! ;-)
In my dreams I already see my own companion cube, waiting for me on a shelve at Valve's store!!! ;-)
The enrichment center reminds you that the Weighted Companion Cube will never threaten to stab you and, in fact, cannot speak.
In the event that the Weighted Companion Cube does speak, the enrichment center urges you to disregard its advice.
If it could talk - and the enrichment center takes this opportunity to remind you that it cannot - it would tell you to go on without it because it would rather die in a fire than become a burden to you.
More news is that some nice wallpapers are online, the one from the hamster alliance is on my desktop already. You can find it here, with a high quality one here. For a smaller version, download the rar. More color variations can be found in the 'open' dir or on this forum. Another nice one can be found here and one more here. And of course your very own companion cube smiley...
Other maps and more maps started appearing as well. If there are any more (collections), please let me know by replying!
If you can't wait for the official desktop toy, you can start creating your own cubes here. And if you liked the end song as much as me, go learn how to get it from Portal here.
I've been a little busy with Mobile Development lately, focusing on Windows Mobile PocketPC and .NET Compact Framework 3.5 development. Mostly because of the Summer Class and Winter Class, and the Mobile Development training for Class-A. I have however built a .NET Compact Framework 2.0 application I want to share.
I hate it when I just missed the information about traffic jams and have to wait until the next full half hour. And besides that I have a really heavy right-foot that sometimes, occasionally, makes my car go much faster than I want. For this I need information on speed-controls by the police, also called "Flitsers". I decided to write my own mobile application for my gorgeous HTC Tytn.
Mike Glaser test-drove (pun not intended) it for me and his wife would use to say "What does Dennis say?" (or in Dutch, "Wat zegt Dennis?") before checking my application. For that reason, I named the application
Now when people ask themselves how fast they can go, they can start up "Dennis" and see what it/he has to say.
"Dennis" is an application that will show 'Flitsers' and 'Files' (traffic jams) in The Netherlands.
You can start it up via an icon in the 'Programs' folder, it's called 'Wat zegt Dennis'.
Navigation through the application can be done entirely by the cursor keys. Up and down will make you scroll through the lists, left and right will make you flip the tab-pages.
On the options screen, you can set your favorite highways. As shown in the screenshot, separate them with semicolons. Marking the "Toon standaard alleen favorieten" will make the application show your favorites on startup. Don't forget to save your settings.
The 'Refresh' button will get the latest information about traffic-jams and speed-controls. The right hardware button will make you switch between all information and your favorites.
The application uses screenscraping to gather the information. This means it loads a webpage and retrieves the needed information from it. Once the owner of the webpage changes its layout, the application probably won't work anymore. Check here regularly for information and updates.
A PocketPC with Windows Mobile 5 or 6
Preferably 240x320 resolution.
.NET Compact Framework 2.0
180kb of free diskspace for the application, 1kb extra for settings file.
You can download the application here.
Double-click the installer on your desktop and it'll install itself onto your mobile device.
I have some ideas on what the application should do. Most of them don't even fit in the current application, so probably a complete rewrite is coming up.
Optional Auto-refresh that refreshes the information automatically on a given interval.
Better support for different resolutions. It's somewhat build in, but might fail as I didn't do much testing.
Remove screenscraping and introduce WCF for gathering data.
This would mean porting the application to .NET 3.5. Would give me LINQ though. ;-)
This is probably the biggest part I'm thinking of. I want some plugin or provider model that enables people to write their own components to retrieve data and make "Dennis" usable for people outside The Netherlands. This also means...
The ability to enter the speed you would've went through the speed-camera, so that it can calculate what fine you just saved yourself. Even better would be that it'd save this information and maybe even send it make to a webserver to gather statistics. According to Mike, you should pay 10% of the fine you just saved yourself from. Good idea, I'll setup an account for you folks! ;-)
Questions, remarks, new features
If you have anything to share, contact me!!!
I'd really like to know what you think of the application or if you have any suggestions, new features, etc.
Have fun and drive safely!!!
As I really enjoyed giving the Summer Classes a few weeks ago, the first ever real .NET 3.5 class world wide, I'm really pleased to announce the Winter Classes. Although the date hasn't even been set, we're planning it around the end of January or start of February. The classes will be the same as last time
- .NET 3.5 Summer Class
- Business Intelligence Summer Class
The location to be will again be the Badhotel Domburg. We really enjoyed it there last time with great facilities and a great bar to hang out and reflect on the things learned that day.
We'll redo the subjects from the last time, but update everything for the then expected to be released .NET Framework 3.5, with perhaps some new stuff that'll be released by then. Subjects we covered in our .NET 3.5 class last time are:
- Language enhancements in C# 3.0 and VB 9.0
- Visual Studio 2008 enhancements
- ASP.NET AJAX extensions
- LINQ and LINQ to XML
- LINQ to SQL
- Where does LINQ (and LINQ to SQL) fit in my architecture?
- WCF and WF integration
- Programming the web with WCF v2
- .NET Compact Framework 3.5
- Entity Framework
- What else is new in .NET 3.5 (for everything we didn't cover yet)
This means a complete coverage of everything new in .NET Framework 3.5. So when you've visited our class, you'll know everything there is to know in a weeks time! And of course with the Class-A labs that make you think about the solution, instead of bothering you with setting colors on buttons and div's! ;-)
We'll also have enough discussion about everything new and you can ask questions just about anything. We'll also prepare a few games so we can have some fun if you enjoy this!
For the Business Intelligence class and more info about the .NET 3.5 class you can visit the Class-A website. It's currently not updated yet for the Winter Class, but it soon will be.
It began on Daniel Moth's weblog, reading about some typing test he had done with some other folks. Today I read about it again on Scott Hanselman's website and decided to take the test myself.
Number of words typed: 240
Test duration: 3 min
Speed: 80.1 words/min. (400 keystrokes/min.)
Error penalty: 15
It's quite funny to see that I score higher then lots of the native English speakers. My accuracy isn't that high, but some Americans are around 60 words per minute.
You can do the test yourself. Remember to press enter (twice) for only new paragraphs. The text will start scrolling by itself once you reach a number of characters.
First, let me tell you how I open my websites in Internet Explorer 7 and/or Firefox.
Open link in new window
SHIFT + Mouse-click
Open link in new tab window
CTRL + Mouse-click
Open link in same window
Drag link to tab
Refresh post-back page without re-posting
Drag icon from address bar to tab
Because I'm used to this myself, some time ago I stopped using the "target" attribute in the links I post in my blogs. Because users now have so much control over how they want to open links, I think it's time to forget about that target attribute and let the user decide for itself. Using this attribute seems to be something from the past, and more and more websites seem to adopt this. It's probably already well known under true website designers and/or developers, but as I don't do that much web development myself anymore, it might also be a well-known but unwritten rule that exists since some time.
This has effect on my behavior in clicking on links. When I actually want to leave a website and follow a link, I just click it. And it always bothers me when sites still use the target="new" attribute. I then have to close the new window and drag the just clicked link to the tab.
This also reminds me a benefit that Firefox has. You can drag your links to any opened tab, while with IE7 you can only drag the link to the currently active tab. The same goes for the icon in the address bar. When you've submitted some info to a post (did a post-back) you can refresh that page without resubmitting everything by dragging the icon from the address bar to a tab. In IE7, just the active tab.
So perhaps I can persuade you to lose the "target" attribute in your href tags from now on...